Running the San Antonio River Walk

March 26, 2016

Phil’s training for London Marathon continues despite a trip to Texas

As John Lennon never said: “Training still happens when you’re busy making other plans.” This translates as “Just because you’re working away, still jet-lagged and foggy from drinking Texan beer doesn’t mean you can drop the scheduled ten mile run”.

Arriving from London that was just above freezing, I was loving the 26 degrees in San Antonio, Texas. Until I needed to run in it, that is – but it’s great to have a change of scene from the normal training chug.

The scene change was the San Antonio River Walk, a pedestrianised path that follows the San Antonio River through the downtown area of the city.

Part of it is extremely busy with bars and restaurants, this is the area that most tourist guides would identify as the River Walk. The good news for runners is you don’t need to get involved in that heavy traffic as that resides in a looped section you can simply jog past and continue to follow the river.

I started below that looped area on the Navarro St steps. The first question is: which way to run? The complete path for running purposes (end-to-end excluding the loop) is about 14 miles. From my start point I could run north past the museum of art and the Pearl brewery complex towards Brackenridge Park, but I chose to go south towards the Spanish missions.

The path below and above the tourist loop is quite narrow but is reasonably quiet with no bikes. The route is pretty straightforward, although you may find yourself going back and forth over a couple of bridges trying to find the right side of the river – but that’s part of the fun.

Just a mile out from tourist central the path widens and bikes join the party. I found the cyclists really polite about letting me know they were there. In fact, the River Walk has to qualify as the friendliest training run I have ever been on with practically all fellow runners saying “Hi” or giving encouraging nods and smiles.

The path edges the trendy King William district and you can see some beautiful wooden houses and it then passes the Blue Star Arts complex. Crossing a large bridge, the route broadens out further as it heads towards the Spanish missions. The most famous San Antonio mission is the Alamo, which is located in central downtown, but there are a number of other ones. First one up on my route is Mission Concepcion. There are signs to it and it is not far off the river route if you want a look before returning to the main path.

I carried on a little further to the beginning of the Riverside golf course before hitting five miles and making the turnaround. Heading back the temperature and travelling took their toil and it was a tough few miles at the end, but thoroughly worth it.

During my trip I managed to visit the Alamo, but when I am running London this year I will remember the River Walk.

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