How well so you know your region, city, or even neighbourhood? Our immediate area is something that many of us take for granted, that is until that lost tourist stops you and asks where James Street or Predigerplatz is and you have no idea. With today’s smartphones and maps easily accessible we don’t notice places as well as we did before. Urban areas are also spreading rapidly adding new streets every year. This might be another reason for you to take up running — to familiarize or reacquaint yourself with where you live.
My running has allowed me to do just that. Thought I live in a comparatively small city when put up against major metropolitan areas like New York, London, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo or Rio, I constantly discover new parts of Zurich. One area in particular that I’ve discovered and continue to rediscover is thanks to one of my students. I teach German and English and one of the courses we offer at my language school is languages on the run, combining running and language learning.
On the edge of Zurich up on one of the hills that surround the Limmat City is a beautiful running paradise. Just coming off the SwissAlpine 2012 I’m a bit tight still but bike across the city to meet my student at her home. We start the class with a brisk walk. From here we go up: gradual as it may be, it will still get your heart pumping. The packed trail path is nice to run on and in the morning it’s cool enough that you’re not sweating bullets. The woods open up and there’s a beautiful open field with views to the Glarner Alps.
We run around the outside, take a sip of water to us at one of the fountains and continue on our way. I’ve run here with Brandi several times in summer, autumn, winter and spring. With so much nature, you forget that you’re on the edge of Switzerland’s largest city. The trees are really what add the dramatic seasonal effect, as the weather and time if year are clearly reflected in the leaves.
The way back is spectacular running along a stream that flows down into Lake Zurich. Over thousands of years the stream has cut a small gorge into the hillside and the clear turquoise water looks welcoming. With the morning sun shining through the emerald canopy the forest is alight with bright greens, warm yellows, and soft oranges. Brandi shows me a few of her favourite spots and tells me that she only discovered this amazing place a year after moving into her flat. It was a work colleague, who suggested they find another place to run that stumbled upon the path with her. Since then she runs and walks there almost weekly.
The path isn’t so much a secret as a lucky find. Every time we go running there, we encounter other runners who all seem to have a serene look on their face. There is something special about running away from traffic and large groups of people. You feel more free and take in more of that which is seemingly static with less angst about the uncontrollables that surround you when running in downtown cores. Every runner, be it those going fast or slow has a look on their face, even if they are really pushing themselves — it’s a look of happiness.
I’ve hiked and run quite a few different areas along the Pfannenstiel (the name of the chain of hills that run along the north easterly side of Lake Zurich) but this is definitely one of my favourite areas and from the faces of the people I see running and walking there, I know that the little bit of nature and solitude just outside the city does them a world of good.
Get out there!
So what’s stopping you from discovering the area where you live? Put on a pair of shoes and go out on a run — maybe it’s a 2KM where you go down a street, you normally don’t travel down, or a 5KM that brings you into a new neighbourhood, or a 10KM that brings you to the edge of the city. It doesn’t matter how long or short the run is, without a care you can take everything in better and you’re bound to discover something new.
If you use RunKeeper you can also submit photos from the interesting and beautiful places you run to their photo competitions and they’ll be featured on their social media platforms. Zurich has been featured a few times.
Distance: 9.34 KM
Elevation: + 256 M
Shoes: On Cloudracer