I have been meaning to write a note on the best running places in Mumbai, where runners, especially the longer distance ones, can train. Having a variety of terrain, and, ideally, micro-climate (sun exposure, humidity) to train in is a key to endurance.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park (aka Borivali National Park, or just BNP)
The place of pride among all running spots in Mumbai rightfully belongs to the popular National Park, which is technically within the city. It gives mild rolling hills, coolers climes and more shade that most other running spots in Mumbai.
One lap to Kanheri caves and back is about 12 kms, and you can throw in both the loops too (while going and coming back) to make one full Kanheri loop to about 18 kms. Two of these would suffice your longest run requirement when training for a full marathon!
Besides, there are water points at strategic places that one may use or leave your stuff around the start point to come back to after every loop.
Rolling hills + forest cover is a great combination about Aarey colony. The roads are quite challenging, but remarkable quiet and beautiful in the mornings.
Always busy with runners (and other sportsmen, primarily crickets). Many people would run a few laps inside for a warmup and then head on the open roads towards Siddhivinayak temple and beyond for their long runs. This place has a thriving running community and you are more than likely to bump into a runner you have seen often on facebook!
Bandra to NCPA (the monthly long run by MRR)
MRR – the Mumbai Road Runners – conducts their monthly long run from Bandra to NCPA on the first Sunday of every month. This is world’s longest running monthly half-marathon event I am told. The distance is about 21 kms and everybody is welcome to join by paying a very small fee and registering on on their facebook event page. You are likely to encounter many famous Mumbai-based runners in this run!
Shivaji Park to NCPA (and back)
The usual meeting place for runners is the Barista coffee shop north of the Shivaji Park. You can park here, have broad foot path here to do your stretches and commence your run southwards (heading towards Siddhivinayak temple and take a right further towards the Worli sea face. Going all the way to NCPA is 15 kms, so a round trip would be 30 kms.
This route is beautiful, with three beautiful sea promenades (Worli sea face, Haji Ali, and Marine Drive), amazing running and non-running crowd, and some of the best heritage precincts of Mumbai. On the Marine Drive, you could may people feeding thousands of seagulls creating a sonic ruckus, or there might be a ‘Yoga by the Bay’ session in progress on the Sunday!
The best part is, on Sundays during the running season, it would look like the entire Mumbai comes on this stretch to run – you could locate the who’s who of Mumbai’s running community running alongside you. And why not? If you practice on these roads, you could certainly get some ‘home field advantage’ in the annual Tata Mumbai Marathon – that coveted crown jewel of all running events in Mumbai!
Manori – Gorai Road, and Uttan Road, all the way towards Pagoda/Essel World
Both these routes are great if you wish to do about 30k of running. Not too many people or cars on the roads, the roads are always gently sloping up or down, and the quaint villages on this route are a bonus for the busy Mumaikars’ soul. The sight of temples, with adjoining ponds, beautiful houses with lots of fruit-laden trees in the courtyard, quaint churches are a sight to behold. If you have done the Vasai-Virar Marathon or the Vasai Heritage run, you would know what I mean. It’s an other-worldly experience…so close to Mumbai yet so different.
Marine Drive and The roads of Malabar Hill
If you happen to find yourself at the Southern end of the city, head over to Marine Drive if you wish to run on flat pavement amidst a lot of running (and non-running!) crowds. If you are in for some hill training, head over to Malabar Hill further on to Priyadarshini Park.
Worli sea-face, all the way to Haji Ali
Nicely paved pavement, facing the sea, and good for exposure to humidity and sun! Go further south towards the Haji Ali entrance and the loop should be a good long run. Nice crowd of runners always running this stretch in the mornings.
Bandstand in Bandra West, and the hillock of Mount Mary
Again, a nice sea front runner friendly pavement, but the distance is not too long. But the hillock of Mount Mary is great for if you are in for hill repeats.
Have you got a favorite running spot in Mumbai? Let me know and I will try it out!