Where to Run Part 2:

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Strides-0206.jpgA street guide to running in San Antonio.

By Paul Baltutis

Editor's note: This article continues a review of 18 running areas in San Antonio first published in 1983's Running Around in San Antonio by Dennis M. Keating.

In last month's South Texas Fitness and Health, Baltutis discussed the South Texas Medical Center track, UTSA area, McAllister Park, Olmos Park, Trinity University course and Brackenridge Park. The series will conclude next month with an article on lesser-known neighborhood courses.

7. Fort Sam Houston Parade Grounds.

Fort Sam previously had open access for visitors, so whether you were on foot or bicycle, you could simply go on post and take advantage of Ft. Sam's extensive land area. Since 2001, the post is no longer "open" and permits access only to those who have a post decal. When races are held on the grounds, you can request a visitor's pass for admittance. If you want to see what the post is like, there are quite a few races held there year around. I recommend running in the Combat Medic 10K, held in July. For those living on post or having access, Fort Sam has many miles to run and explore.

8. Woodlawn Park.

Woodlawn is a compact but scenic little park on the city's West Side. There's a 1.3-mile paved trail loop around the lake which is popular with local residents. The loop is nice, but again, rather short for any long-distance training. Runners that live within a few miles of the park can run there, do several loops and head back home to bump up the miles.

9. Mission County Park.

Mission County is the largest city park on the historic Mission Trail and has good facilities to stage your run. From the parking area at Mission County Park head toward the San Antonio River to locate the trail. The course Keating described goes south to Ashley Road, but the trail has now been extended to Mission Espada, which will give you an additional 2.5 miles, for a total round trip of 8.5 miles. Recent improvements on the trail include an underpass at Mission County Park under E. White which helps connect you to the northern half of the Mission Trail (discussed below).

10. The Mission Trail.

This course takes you on the northern portion of the Mission Trail. The course Keating described appeared to be a road course versus an on-the-hike/bike-trail. I assume that the hike/bike trail wasn't completed in 1983 because runners would much rather stay on the trail than fight traffic over the roads. Because of the trail improvement, this course works its way north to Mission Concepción and continues north to the old Lone Star Brewery. (The trail ends at Mission Concepción, and you can proceed north along Mission Road and South St. Mary's up to the Alamo, but you are running with traffic and have many street crossings. In other words, stop at Mission Concepción.)

11. South Side Lions Park.

According to the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Web site, this park is listed at 346 acres, which is one of the larger parks in San Antonio. There are two running loops, approximately 1 mile each on either side of Pecan Valley Road. The quarter-mile track at Highlands High School is also popular because it is lit at night.

12. King William Historical District.

This is one of the nicest neighborhoods in San Antonio for its historical buildings and residences. The area is pleasant to run in, but it is limited to short loops because of cross-streets and busy traffic patterns just outside the district. It is a nice add-on from a downtown course.

13. The River Walk.

The River Walk should be left to tourists and walkers. I don't believe even runners who live downtown actually run on the River Walk. There is a short extension from the "touristy" area of the River Walk along the San Antonio River that extends south of Nueva Street and continues into the King William District that has some potential, but it is only about one-half mile long.

14. HemisFair Plaza.

HemisFair Plaza is surrounded by downtown streets and heavy traffic. While the water fountains and the Tower of the Americas are nice to look at, the park doesn't offer much as a running course. A 1.5-mile course is possible on the sidewalks if you follow South Bowie Street, Durango, South Alamo and Market Streets.

15. El Mercado Market.

Straddling the western edge of downtown, the course Keating describes travels east from the Mercado along Commerce to Alamo Street and turns on Market and heads back to the Mercado. This is another downtown course that should be run only during early mornings or on weekends.

16. St. Paul Square.

This area has had some nice renovations around the Amtrak Station, including Sunset Station and the Alamodome, but it is limited by the surrounding downtown geography. This area served as the starting line for the San Antonio Marathon in 2005, and runners probably enjoyed the short stretch of scenery on Hoefgen Road.

17. The Alamo.

Keating describes a .3-mile course around the Alamo. While the Alamo is a fascinating historical site, the distance is rather meager. Then again, you can also run by the Menger Hotel.

18. Lone Star to Pearl Brewery.

Unfortunately, both breweries are no longer active. There is probably no reason to run this course other than drinking a brew at each end. The course started at the Lone Star Brewery and went up St. Mary's to Camden, then on to the Pearl Brewery via Avenue A.

In part III, in next month's issue, I'll include updates to San Antonio running areas, including parks that weren't around back in 1983, such as O.P. Schnabel and Government Canyon. Please feel free to call or e-mail your favorite neighborhood route for consideration in the "best neighborhood runs."

Paul Baltutis is the manager of Soler's Sports at 5933 Broadway in Alamo Heights. He is a certified marathon coach with Team in Training. Contact him at (210) 930-3158 or pbaltutis@satx.rr.com.

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