Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Oslo Tryvann Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 11.3 km (7 miles), terrain hilly, total gain of 206 meters

Oslo running routes:
Oslo Downtown route
Oslo Bygdøy island route

Oslo Tryvann wilderness route
For more running routes, see Route List.

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks!

The great thing about Oslo is that it is so close to nature. At every turn, you get glimpses of fjord bays, uninhabited islands and imposing mountaintops. As soon as you get out of the center of town, you're already approaching wilderness.

And the biggest wilderness area, the Nordmarka, begins at the Tryvann mountaintop, past the Holmenkollen ski-jump area, northwest of town. You can quickly get there from downtown, with Metro (T-bane) Line 1. Get out at the last stop, Frognerseteren.
Nordmarka trail, photo by Ian B
Tryvann (Three Waters, I think, if I'm interpreting this old name correctly) marks the end of civilization around Oslo. From there on, stretching off far across the wooded mountains to the north, lies the Nordmarka wilderness. There are trails leading through the various valleys, making this a perfect place to head off on a long summer evening. This is the REAL Norway.

In the winter, Tryvann is a skiing area, with several ski lifts strung-up along the Vinterpark, on the north slope.

NOTE: If you're in Oslo in the winter, here's an alternative to running: one time, when working there in a January, I brought my cross-country skis on my flight, and then rode the metro to Holmenkollen in the evenings to ski along their lighted tracks, which begin right at the tram stop. Not a bad way to unwind after work!

This run covers just the southern part of the Nordmarka, as an out-and-back to the Nordmarkskapellet chapel, and then returns back the same way.

So, if you are a wilderness runner at heart, let's get going!
The Frognerseteren metro station, all out here!, photo by pixelbombe
Take the metro to Frognerseteren, then start running northwest from the tram stop along the gravel path, uphill through the woods. It merges into a paved street, Øvresterveien, in just 200 meters. The route is uphill all the way to the TV tower.

Another note: I've also run all the way to the top from the city center, but this is something for an evening-filling adventure.

You'll pass a pond on the right, and the road curves towards the right as it continues lightly uphill. You'll see the gigantic TV tower (Tryvannstårnet) off on the peak, straight ahead, with a metal radio tower along the way.
TV tower, photo by Wolfgang Stief
The ski lifts and Tryvann Vinterpark buildings are clustered at the base of the TV tower.

Once you pass the TV tower, the paths turn to gravel. and you'll start heading downhill into the wooded valley ahead of you, with the green, rolling Nordmarka hills lining the horizon ahead. In the summer, the area is a favorite destination for hikers, mountain-bikers and runners. I'm very impressed by the Norwegians' attitude: whenever the weather alllows it, they are out enjoying it with every sport possible: sailing, roller blades, you name it!
View towards Nordmarka from lift, photo by flickr.Marcus
Run downhill among the ski lifts and cleared slopes, following the main trail. The trail ends by running into another gravel road. Turn left to continue northwards, downhill.

NOTE: These trails are also used as lighted cross-country skiing trails in winter, hence the street lamps. Those lucky Osloers!

Just 100 meters later you come to the three little lakes, natural blue jewels with crystal-clear water. The path goes right along the east shore of the first lake, Store (Large) Tryvann. At the north side of the lake, you'll find the grass-roofed Tryvannstua, a private mountain hut where you can eat fresh-baked waffles (hard to resist, I know).
Lille Tryvann lake, photo by Sjekster
Continue running northwards, past Lille (Little) Tryvann lake on your left, and after another half-kilometer you come to another lake, Bjørndammen, on the right side. You can jump in and go for a swim if it's warm enough. I did!
Nordmarka reflections, photo by Eli Brager
Now just keep running straight north to the Nordmarkskapellet chapel.

After another kilometer, the trail starts heading slightly uphill. Keep going for the last half-kilometer until you reach the chapel, a collection of wooden buildings on the hillside.

This run turns around here and heads back, with the more difficult uphill section to come, rising about 160 meters back to the TV tower.

But, if you haven't had enough of this wonderful Norwegian countryside yet, you can naturally keep heading north, following the trail forever, if you prefer. For example, you can run to the next lake, the Blankvann, another kilometer north of the chapel. Have fun!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

San Francisco North Shore/Telegraph Hill Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 9.27 km (5.8 miles), terrain goes up two 50m hills, total gain 124m

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks! 

San Francisco running routes:
Marina Green to Golden Gate
Downtown/Embarcadero/Chinatown/Nob Hill
Ft. Mason/Fisherman's Wharf/Telegraph Hill/Lombard Street
Golden Gate Park
For more running routes, see Route List.

The northeast corner of San Francisco is worth exploring. The bayside shore is varied, with inspiring views, and then you have Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill, with the legendary Lombard Street serpentine to tackle.

This run starts at the same place as Heather Marr's classic Marina Green to Golden Gate run, at Marina Green. But this one heads east, taking in the other end of the shoreline, with its beaches, harbors and wharves. It will first go by Fort Mason, then passing the Aquatic Park beach, with the Maritime National Historic Park ships and Alcrataz in the background. It will then go past the fishing harbor and touristy Fisherman's Wharf, then pass more wharves until heading up the jungley gardens of the Filbert Steps to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Then it cuts through North Beach, the old Little Italy neighborhood that was the center of the 1950s beatnik scene. It then follows Lombard Street's serpentine up Russian Hill before heading back to Marina Green.
View to Golden Gate Bridge, photo by Ernest Gaudreau
This is a tough run, with two hills on your way back to the start, but well worth it. Sound like something for you? All right, here we go!

The San Francisco North Shore Route
So get yourself to the start, at the west end of Marina Green, at Marina Blvd and Scott Street. Take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge to your left, behind the marina boats, and look out at Angel Island and Alcatraz out in the bay. Now turn to the east and run along the shore, with the water to your left.

You'll have to turn right at the far end of the of the green, at the next marina. Just follow the water until you run through the parking lot. You'll pass the entrance to the Ft. Mason Center, and then come to the parkland of Ft. Mason itself. Turn left into the park.
Fort Mason view to Alcatraz, photo by Curtis Cronn
Follow the path along the left side of Ft. Mason Green. To your right, there is a bluff with an old Civil-War-era battery with its cannons, the Black Point Battery. 

You will come to the Municipal Pier curving out into the bay. Turn right here to follow the cove, running into Aquatic Park, with its beach. There are historic ships docked-up on the far side of the cove, at Hyde Street Pier, in the Marine National Historic Park. If you like old ships, like me, you'll want to come back here later!
Historic ships, seen from pier, with Telegraph Hill and city, photo by Florence Wang
At the far end of the beach, you'll continue running eastwards along Jefferson Street.

You are now entering the fishing harbor, with fishing boats on the left, and restaurants on the right. The street gets more touristy with each block.

At Taylor Street, you come to Fisherman's Wharf, where you keep left to stay along the water.
Fisherman's Wharf, photo by Nick Ares
The Embarcadero (bayfront street lined with wharves) begins here. Keep running along the water as the street curves to the right.

When you come to Pier 23, cross the Embarcadero and run westwards through the park, where you come to Levi Plaza, between two red-brick buildings (the Levi Strauss headquarters). You will see the white cylinder of Coit Tower atop the cliffs behind the buildings.

Run straight to the stairway going up the cliffs of Telegraph Hill. This is the Filbert Street Steps. Follow them up through jungley vegetation and various hidden gardens, each a unique little jewel, kept up by the people who live here. It reminds me of Cremorne in Sydney, if you were ever there. Keep your eyes open for the green parrots that live here.
Filbert steps, photo by Jenn Deering Davis
You decide if you run or walk up the steps. A brisk walking pace is enough for me.
Filbert steps jungle, photo by Katrin Schaefer
When you get up to Montgomery Street, turn right and run down to the end to the abandoned Julius Castle restaurant. Turn left to go up the brick Greenwich Steps to Coit Tower above, among more jungle.

You are now in Pioneer Park, with a great view out over the bay, and Coit Tower to the side.

Run to the tower and then follow the path down the hill through the park, as it then curves into Lombard Street.
Coit Tower, photo by Lies van Herreweghe
You are now running directly westwards, first going downhill. You'll cross Grant Avenue, San Francisco's oldest street. Beginning at Stockton Street, you're in North Beach, the city's bohemian heart, home to beats like Kerouak and Ginsberg.

When you cross Columbus Avenue (home of the legendary City Lights Bookstore), the street starts going uphill again, up Russian Hill. In three blocks, you'll come to the famous serpentine, with its beautiful gardens, going up the steep section of the hill.

You'll cross the main cable-car line at the top, and then start running downhill. From now on there are no more uphill stretches (Hooray!).
Lombard Street serpentine, photo by Doug Kerr
Run one block to Larkin Street, where we will turn right (Lombard Street turns into a major highway in just a couple of blocks, so let's avoid it). Larkin Street curves to the left, going down to Francisco Street.

NOTE: The famous chase scene in Bullitt went down this way, and followed basically the whole rest of the route.

Now follow Francisco six blocks until it ends at a baseball field. Turn right here at Laguna Street, heading north.

In just one block, you'll be back at Fort Mason Green, on the right side. Run north on the park path parallel to Laguna Street until you come back to the entrance to the Ft. Mason Center again.

Now just follow the same way back to Marina Green as the way you first came.

San Francisco Downtown Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 4.76 km (3 miles), terrain goes up a big hill, total gain 122 meters

Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks! 

San Francisco running routes:
Marina Green to Golden Gate
Downtown/Embarcadero/Chinatown/Nob Hill
Ft. Mason/Fisherman's Wharf/Telegraph Hill/Lombard Street
Golden Gate Park
For more running routes, see Route List.

San Francisco has to be one of the most fascinating cities to run in. The terrain is varied, challenging and is full of natural and man-made scenic wonders. There are wonderful parks, beautiful neighborhoods, creative people, hilltop vistas and a seemingly endless shoreline.

Here is a route that will take you through the main downtown sights, through old San Francisco. We'll start in the heart of town, at Union Square, then run down the main shopping area, Market Street to the Embarcadero ferry terminal at the water. Then we'll head uphill through Chinatown to the top of Nob Hill, the ritziest part of town, before following the cable-car tracks back down to the start.

NOTE: if you don't feel up to the Nob Hill climb (a rise of more than 100 meters), just keep running north along the bayshore at the Embarcadero, and turn back whenever you choose.

Union Square, photo by Wally Gobetz
Standing there on Union Square, at the foot of the tall column topped by a statue of Admiral George Dewey, you are surrounded by high-end retail names: Tiffany, Saks, Macy's, Bloomingdale's among many others. Sad that the wonderful Borders bookstore is now closed. It was the first bookstore that I had ever experienced with its own café and its "please browse" attitude, back in the 1990s.

Turn to the east, with Macy's to your right, and start running down Geary Street. Run straight down the street until it merges into Market Street, where you then head northeast. You can see the clock-tower of the old Embarcadero ferry terminal straight down the street, our next destination.

Market Street is one of the busiest downtown streets, and forms the main traffic artery for downtown. But the amount of cars is surprisingly limited. There are lots of electric buses and bicycles fighting for the space.
Historic trams along Market Street, photo by Paul Fenton
My favorite thing about Market Street is the F-Line trams, a collection of historic trams that travel a 6-mile route from Castro to the Embarcadero and then northwards to Fishermen's Wharf. They have been brought here from cities all over the world, and they travel the line wearing their old colors.

After about 700 meters, Market Street ends at the impressive Embarcadero, terminal for ferries across the bay.
The ferry terminal in evening light, photo by Michael Ball
Turn left on the Embarcadero and run to the next bayside building, Pier 1. Now turn left and cross the street to head up Washington Street, past Sue Bierman Park on the left side.
Embarcadero from the bayside, photo by David Yu
You are heading back through the downtown, running due west, and after a few blocks you'll run past the captivating pyramid of the Transamerica Tower.
Transamerica Building pyramid, photo by Scott Beale
When you cross Kearny Street, you'll enter Chinatown. You'll also start running uphill. You'll gain 100 meters until you reach the top, at Nob Hill.

But first you get to enjoy the unique atmosphere of Chinatown. You will cross Stockton Street, which is Chinatown's main street, full of Chinese restaurants and food stores. Definitely plan time to come back!
Chinatown, photo by David Yu
Keep running uphill on Washington Street.  When you cross Powell Street, you'll cross the main cable-car tracks that head to Fishermen's Wharf, and one line turns onto Washington here and will accompany you uphill on your way west.

In the next block, the houses start getting nicer, you're getting into Nob Hill, San Francisco's oldest exclusive neighborhood.
Nob Hill, photo by Pablo Reyes Betanzo
When you cross Taylor Street, you'll see some beautiful bay-windowed houses to each side. In just one more block you'll reach the very top of the hill (yea!).

Now turn left on Jones Street and run one block to Clay Street, where you turn left and run back downhill one block to Taylor Street again (this is nicer than Jones).

Now turn right on Taylor and run the two blocks to the heart of Nob Hill, Huntington Park, with Grace (Episcopal) Cathedral on the right side.

NOTE: Some of the scenes of the movie Bullitt were filmed around this square, and Steve McQueen lived on Taylor Street in the film, if you're a fan like I am.
Huntington Park, photo by Pablo Reyes Betanzo
On the far side of the park, turn left on California Street and run by the beautiful ensemble of buildings: the Huntington Hotel, the Pacific Union Club, the Fairmont Hotel and the Mark Hotel, with views in every direction.

Now run downhill the one block to Powell Street and its cable-car tracks again, where you turn right and continue running downhill, southwards the four blocks back to Union Square.