Through A Runner’s Eyes




I am out of breath, red in the face, and dying for a sip of water. No, I am not on some survivor challenge in the middle of the desert, I’m standing outside of my flat in downtown London. For some, running five miles a day may seem like a million dollar challenge, but for me it comes naturally. Growing up with two parents who were constantly running marathons, Iron Mans, and triathlons, running quickly became second nature to me. Residing in the beach town of Spring Lake, New Jersey, I frequent the boardwalk in the warmer months on my runs. During the school year, there is no place more beautiful to run than the Bronx Botanical Gardens, located right outside the Fordham University Rose Hill campus gates.

Finding myself in London for the month of June, I had no doubt I would put my new city to good use. Since the sidewalks are often too crowded to run on, especially during tourist season, Hyde Park would soon become my new landscape. At home and school I have a set route which I run daily. However, as a lover of travel, one of my favorite ways to see a new city or town is simple: just go. I set my watch for my usual five miles and simply take off, getting lost in the new neighborhood. Running everyday certainly has its perks. Not only does running keep me in shape, but it also keeps me level-headed. There is a certain idea that avid runners tend to be nicer than most people. I believe this to be true. I have never met a fellow runner that did not even give a slight head nod or smile back when locking eyes on a trail.


Seeing a city through the eyes of a runner is a different experience than being a tourist. Getting lost while running through a city opens your eyes and ears to a variety of people and places. I have found hidden restaurants and shops just by running past them, in places I would otherwise not travel to.

I vividly remember my first run when I touched down in London. My mother and I ran together through Kensington Gardens, a stone’s throw away from my now frequent runs through Hyde Park. Normally, I never stop while running. However, the The Albert Memorial stopped me dead in my tracks.  The towering gold statue commemorating the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, Prince Albert in 1861 looks like it belongs on top of a castle. That’s not the only thing to see in Kensington Park either. The Queen Victoria Statue as well as the Peter Pan Statue, in Kensington Gardens, also made me take a minute to appreciate my surroundings.

Next I was onto my favorite place, Hyde Park, one of the several Royal Parks. The somewhat touristy spot is home to runners, cyclists, walkers, picnic goers and paddle boat riders. I favor Hyde Park during the early morning, when it is empty except for fellow runners, and I am most at peace. I tend to run around the outskirts of the park and pass the water, horse stables and the entrance to Kensington Gardens. My favorite part of the trail is somewhat hidden. It is a small bridge which crosses the Serpentine. When I come across the bridge I can just make out the London Eye behind the buildings peeking out behind the trees. Something like seeing the London Eye in the distance while running is a feeling that not only calms my mind by my body as well.

Hyde Park is a place where you must literally stop and smell the roses and other beautiful flowers blooming in the center of all of the trees. Some are hidden gems that you would not otherwise notice. After entering closest to Marble Arch, my advice would be to run straight, toward the Serpentine, the lake shared by Hyde Park and the adjoining park, Kensington Gardens. If you time it right and the garden is not jam packed with tourists, run through it!


One day I decided to talk to a fellow runner, who looked my age and American.  I had seen him walking in and out of our temporary home for the month of June, Landward Court, and assumed he was currently living in the same building and studying abroad for the summer as well. Turns out, I was right. After an exchange of names and hometowns I found out that Davis was from Texas, currently studying at the University of Tennessee. After finding out he was a fellow lover of daily long distances, I asked him what he loved most about running in a new city. “I people watch when I run. I try to look at people and think about who they are and what they are doing here,” my new friend said. “Hyde Park is my favorite place to run,” he stated, and I agreed. “I have traveled to many countries and nothing beats the parks in London.”

Running in a new city has a different affect on everyone. However one thing all runners have in common is the fact their hobby results in the best way to explore.