Monday, 2 May 2011

Munich Olympiapark / Luitpoldpark Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length: 6.8 km (4.2 miles), terrain hilly

Munich Running Routes:
Old town, English Garden, Isar 
Nymphenburg Palace gardens  
Olympiapark  
Isar River south route  
Classical Munich  
Starnberger See lake-side route  

For more running routes see the route list.

I ran this in the late evening, hence the dark pictures. 

If you are staying in Munich's preferred address for fun and nightlife (Schwabing), then here's a perfect place to run. This route takes you through Luitpoldpark and then through the sprawling, fascinating Olympiapark.

The Olympiapark was created for the 1976 Olympic Games (which was marred by the tragic bloodbath of 11 Israeli athletes). The grounds are varied and full of surprises: a string of lakes, an artificial hill, a complex of indoor and outdoor sports venues covered by a beautiful, suspended network of plexiglass roofwork, a giant communications tower, and much more.
Olympiapark lake, stadiums, TV tower, and BMW headquarters
This route also includes two hills, making it one of the few places in Munich where you can do some hill work, for a total of 52 meters of rise. Contrary to its Bavarian reputation, most of Munich is as flat as a pancake.

So, if you're ready to take on the Olympic challange, here we go.

The route begins in Schwabing West, at the Scheidplatz U-Bahn- and tram-station on Belgradstraße. Directly behind the station lies Luitpoldpark. This first park is fairly unspectacular, but it includes the first hill (not nearly as high as the one in Olympiapark). Run straight into the park, towards the Bamberger Haus biergarten-restaurant, then turn right, towards the north, at the middle of the park.
Bamberger Haus at night, with kid and dog
You will run directly towards the hill, just 150 meters ahead. Follow the path as it winds up towards the hilltop. Each time you see a turnoff going further uphill, take it. Eventually, you will reach the top, with a bit of a lookout towards the north. The hill is made of rubble dumped there after the heavy bombing raids in World War II. The bigger hill, in Olympiapark, has the same origins.

Now continue by running down the north side of the hill, towards the left (west). When you get to the base of the hill, take the path towards the right to keep running to the north end of the park. Stay towards the left side of the park (the west edge). This takes you between the garden-house colony on your right and the large apartment houses on your left.

Just past the last apartment house, the park ends at a big intersection, at Schleißheimer Straße. The Petuelring U-Bahn- and tram-station is also there, across the street. Cross the street, go by the U-Bahn entrance and continue to the left along the Birnauer Straße, with the small canal and a small tree-line on your right side.

The 4-cylinder BMW headquarters looms up across the busy street to the right. After about 300 meters, at Lerchenauer Straße, you will enter the Olympiapark, with the huge TV tower (Olympiaturm) straight ahead.

In just 100 meters, at the first bridge over the canal, to the right, cross the canal (look for the Sea Life sign). You will notice the big hill beginning on the left side, but we will climb it later, on the way back.
Lakeside in Olympiapark
Now continue running along the water, with the water to your left side, running westwards. The water widens to a lake at this point. The water comes from the same system that supplies the Nymphenburg palace grounds, several kilometers to the west (see the Nymphenburg Palace route. You could even combine the two routes, if you want, by continuing along the canal to the palace).

At first, the underground Sea Life aquarium blocks the view of the lake, but then you'll see the water again when you get to the base of the TV tower. Just keep running with the water on your left side and you can't go wrong.
The plexiglass roof
Soon you'll go past the sports venues with their plexiglass roofing. Nowadays they are mostly used for concerts and other events. Germany's best football (soccer) team, FC Bayern München, moved out of the big stadium for a newer one a few years ago.
The Schwimhalle at night
The path goes slightly uphill as it goes by the football stadium, but then goes down to the water's edge again, along a smaller, second lake. At the end of that lake you will reach the turnaround spot, where the water turns into a narrow canal again. Cross the pedestrian bridge to the other side, and run back towards the east, along Willi-Gebhardt-Ufer.
The small lake
You are now running straight towards the hill. Run under the two bridges and then take the path to the right that heads up the hill. There are some steps to take you to the main path, which winds along the north slope of the hill. Just keep running uphill along this side.

This is the most interesting side of the hill, with a view of the lakes, the stadiums, tower and the BMW headquarters in the distance.

Eventually, you'll see the path winding upwards to the right to go all the way to the hilltop: follow it all the way, and enjoy the view!
View eastwards from hilltop: cross that lawn
Looking eastwards, over the lawn-covered slopes, this is the way we'll continue from here. You can see the Luitpoldpark hill in the distance.

Run down from the hilltop, and after 50 meters the path splits in 3 directions. Take the middle path, which winds down through the lawns to the east. Just stay on the main path, going east.

NOTE: The Olympia Alm hilltop biergarten is out there on the left side, one of the park's most popular hangouts.

When you come to a crossing marked Martin-Luther-King-Weg (you've actually been running down Martin-Luther-King), turn right and run the 100 meters downhill to the edge of the park. The path runs into Winzererstraße, going south.   

Run to Ackermannstraße, where you turn left to run eastwards. You will cross Lerchenauerstraße again, and then pass the St. Sebastian church on the right side. Just past the church, you'll see Luitpoldpark on your left side. So cross the street to the park and run straight to the middle, at the Bamberger Haus again, where you turn to the right to get back to the Scheidplatz starting point again.