Friday 11 December 2015

Gent Watersportbaan Lake Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5 km (3.1 miles), terrain: flat

Gent Running Routes:
Old Town Route
Waterside Route
Watersportbaan Lake Route
For more running routes, see Route List. 

By far, the most popular running route in Gent, Belgium (spelled Ghent in Dutch) is a loop around the Watersportbaan lake. The lake looks more like a canal: long and straight, stretching east-west, and a loop around it is exactly 5 kilometers long.

The lake is artificial, as you can imagine, created as a rowing competition site, and it is still in constant use by rowing clubs, and there are several big regattas each year. The lake is on the west edge of the city center.
Runner along Watersportbaan
I ran this route on a rainy autumn evening, so it didn't enchant me all that much, but I tried to imagine it in the summer sun, and it certainly does have its possibilities, with connections to extensive nature trails to the north and south.

A route like this is pretty simple and doesn't need much description. It is run in both directions. This route sets out counter-clockwise around the lake.

We'll start at the east end of the lake, along busy Verenigde Natieslaan (United Nations Lane). This is the widest spot of the lake, with a little park and water-polo areas.
Start of the run, in the little park
There is a little sidewalk in the park next to the water and another near the street. Most runners stay next to the street: the park area can be full of litter and bottles.

OK, so let's get going! Face westwards, with the water to your left side and off we go!

You'll immediately run by two rowing clubs on your left, then come to the straight part of the lake. Now just keep running along the water, heading westwards. You'll probably see some rowing teams out on the lake at this end.

There is a street that follows the complete edge of the lake, called Noorderlaan on this (north) side and Zuiderlaan on the other (south) side. But there isn't much traffic.

After a kilometer, the last buildings in town end, and there are fields along the right side of the lake. And further off to the north begins the vast Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen nature preserve.

You'll round the west end of the lake at the 2.5-km mark.
Running along the south side on a rainy evening
Now you head back to the start along the south side of the lake.

Around the 3-kilometer mark, you'll run past a huge indoor sports hall, the Topsporthal.

NOTE: If you want to add some distance and some more interesting scenery to the run, you can turn south at the street just after the Topsporthal. This will take you to a little, scenic lake called Blaarmeersen, which is lined by foot-trails, and even has a beach! You can follow the Vissersdijk trail along a little stream back to Watersportbaan.
Vissersdijk runs into Watersportbaan here
During the last kilometer, the road leaves the side of Watersportbaan to go around a little boat-club harbor and some sports fields. There's a traffic circle when this street runs into Verenigde Natieslaan.

Now just turn left and run the 100 meters back to the start.

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