I RUN this city

Running. You either love it or you hate it, but sometimes you hate a little less and get the inspiration you need from a city and its running paths.

After a few years in Jacksonville, I now love running. Love it enough to run in the morning before the sun comes out, or run on Friday nights instead of going to happy hour, it is mad passionate love.

How did this happen? Easy. I live in San Marco, and work Downtown, and the running trails between the two neighborhoods are simply inspiring. If you lace up your sneakers and run from the Lions at the historic San Marco Square down the picturesque San Marco boulevard to the iconic Friendship Fountain on the Southbank overlooking the sparkling St. Johns River then over the Main Street Bridge onto the Northbank River Walk to the bustling Riverside neighborhood, you would not only run 5 miles, but you would enjoy some of the best views the urban core has to offer.

You had a bad day? Your vacation budget is over the limit? You gained a few pounds eating all of the delicious local food? That can all be gone once your feet hit the pavement and you soak in the breathtaking Downtown Jacksonville skyline reflecting on the water of the St. Johns River as you run from one neighborhood to the other. Your mind clears once you get in motion, and you just connect with yourself, and get active!

I never feel as safe and as involved in my community as I do when I’m running. Runners are friendly, everyone waves, everyone shares the road and the trails, and everyone is out on the same mission, being one with nature and the city. And in a city where nature is king, connecting to it and being active is the best way to explore it.

Here are my top five favorite Downtown running routes:

  1. Begin at the Jacksonville Landing, head South on the Northbank RiverWalk all the way to the I-95 underpass and back. The distance is a 5K. If you need to catch your breath, be sure to stop by the sculpture outside the Yates YMCA and maybe take a selfie or two.
  2. Start at the base of the Main Street Bridge (the blue bridge) onto Water Street. Run pass the Museum of Science and History and cross the street to the Acosta Bridge. Both bridges have a pedestrian lane perfect for runners. Get off the Acosta and go North onto Water Street, the route will take you right back to where you started.
  3. Start at the base of the Main Street Bridge pass the Museum of Science and History and onto Friendship Fountain on the Southbank. Run the newly renovated Southbank RiverWalk. It is spacious and shaded in some parts, also lit at night. Up and down the RiverWalk and over the bridge will give you a 3 mile run.
  4. Run from Times Union Center down the Northbank RiverWalk all the way to EverBank Field. If you go around the stadium and back the distance is a little over 4 miles, plus you get to see the stadium!
  5. For longer runs, start at the Times Union Center, run South on the Northbank RiverWalk, go all the way until the I-95 underpass and continue on Riverside Avenue. Run pass the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, and Memorial Park. From that point back the distance is about 5 miles, if you continue onto St. Johns Avenue you could have a 10 mile run that takes you through some of the most beautiful historic neighborhoods in Jacksonville. Totally relaxing and nurturing.

Be sure to tag your running photos with the hashtag #ActiveJAX. We want to see you running in Jacksonville!

BTW, the running at the Beaches and at the Westside is just as impressive, but more on that later…

About the Author