Wednesday, 21 July 2010

#25 Run this town.

Central Park, May 2010

Michael R. Bloomberg, the esteemed Mayor of this city, has famously pledged that no New Yorker will live more than 10 blocks from a park by the end of his tenure. Well, the boy's done good. New York is bursting with green spaces. Admittedly, some of them are a little small. Hell, many of them make your average village green look like Yellowstone. But they are there, and they are public, and they're fab for a spot of lunch.

I live four blocks from Central Park, the grandaddy of New York's parks, and two blocks from the terrapin-infested Morningside Park. I'm Bloomberg's publicist's wet dream. Anyway, since I'm cheap and city parks are free, I tend to use them to their fullest.

It's a strange park, Central Park. Bizarrely large for an island so chronically short of space, you feel slightly guilty using it. Does New York really need it? I'm all for green spaces, but I bet real estate prices would be a bit lower if Central Park didn't exist. And getting across town would be easier. And there would be less tourists. And John Lennon memorials. And overpriced hot dogs. And surely it's not a very green green space? If Central Park were razed, less people would have to commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan, so there would be energy savings. I bet they use a sickening amount of water irrigating it.

Anyway, I'm quite a keen runner, if you didn't know. The four runs per week of my youth have ebbed to one or two, in truth, but I'm still out there pounding the pavement with reasonable frequency.

I generally run alone, in the countryside, passing maybe one or two people in an hour. I run like Paris Hilton after an oestrogen injection. Not slowly, you understand - for someone of my build, I'm pretty nippy - just in an hilarious, let's-get-a-photo-of-this-mincing-idiot style. Central Park is to running what the hajj to Mecca is to Islam. So colour me a little self-conscious.

The saving grace for my ego is that Americans run slowly. I don't know why. I overtake almost everybody; people skinnier than me, with better trainers, who never ever smoke and don't fiddle with their iPods continuously. It's like everyone has been hypnotised and/or sodomized by Richard Simmons. I ran the length of Park Drive the other day, passing maybe 500 people, and no one overtook me. It's bizarre and gratifying and ego-boosting and unnerving all at once. Is there a speed limit no one told me about? Maybe they're concerned about waking Yoko Ono, or the zoo animals? (I'm leaving the obvious joke unmade here.)


  1. I recently started running in Central Park, and damn(!) am I slow at it. I do feel encouraged in my pace (it's a run-walk sort of thing) as I am often running the same speed as a large handful or runners. Makes me feel less useless, and like I fit in with the running culture, even though I've always felt a disconnect. I prefer running around the reservoir. Bet you could run them into the ground.

  2. I like that there's a spectrum. I guess I just expected more at the top end. I'm not a particularly quick runner; it's just that no one seems to do serious running in Central Park...