Sunday, March 21, 2010

A New York State of Mind

When preparing for a trip, the first things I throw in my suitcase are a pair of comfortable walking shoes and my runners. If I plan to do some serious hiking, I’ll also pack my trekking boots. I made good use of the first two items when I spent ten weeks in New York City last year, and I plan to put some serious miles on my hiking boots there later this year.

I’m about to head off overseas indefinitely. I’ll be packing my walking shoes, my runners, my trekking boots and my laptop – and not much else. My house is sold, along with most of its contents. My art collection is going to our local art gallery for safekeeping. Most of my collection of 3000 books is now for sale on My dogs Butch and Charlie are going to new homes with good friends who love them.

I'm inviting you to join me on my journey, through this blog. I’ll be offering suggestions for places to walk, run and hike for readers who, like me, when they find themselves somewhere far from home, can’t wait to step outside and start putting one foot in front of the other.

Next month I’m returning to New York City briefly to run a half marathon in Central Park. Central Park is New York’s gift to runners. You can find a detailed map with distances listed at Also check out New York City Runners ( I’m thinking of joining this group in September, when I’ll again be living beside Central Park while I train for the New York Marathon.

As an Australian, I was able last year to become an international member of New York Road Runners ( I competed in five of their races, from 5K to half marathon distance. Annual membership was about $50, which also gave me access to a noticeboard with postings by people looking for running partners. Other options for visiting runners are the six Hash House Harriers groups in the NYC area ( These groups offer a fun way to explore the city, especially if you like beer. I’m a member of both the NYC Hash and the Hudson Dusters, its offshoot for hashers who also compete in NYRR races. Through the Hash I learned about the 200-mile (320-km) Green Mountain Relay in Vermont, which I ran as a member of the New York Running Chicks and a Few Dudes team.

Walking in New York City is easy, fun and safe. I walked the length and breadth of Manhattan, whose grid system of streets above Houston (pronounced ‘How-ston’) makes it very easy to get one’s bearings. Recommended sightseeing walks include Broadway (which runs the length of the island), Fifth Avenue from Harlem to Greenwich Village, Central Park, and along the Hudson River from the Upper West Side to Battery Park for views of the New Jersey shoreline and the Statue of Liberty. This sculpture on the waterfront in Battery Park of a drowning shipwrecked sailor is very moving, especially on a rising tide.

Gotham Walking Tours ( offers private tours that explore New York City’s history, architecture, food and culture. The New York Walking Meetup Group’s walks are a good way to meet others, especially if you’re single ( Their most recent scheduled walk was across the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges on the East River. (Just before I left New York last July I ran over these bridges wearing bright orange lacy underpants over my running shorts. As you do. My New York mates didn’t bat an eyelid!) Google ‘Free New York walking tours’ for further walking options.

The Appalachian Mountain Club ( is the oldest outdoor recreation club in the United States. The NYC chapter organises day hikes in the highlands region of New York State and other nearby locations. Wild Earth Adventures ( also offers year-round guided hiking and walking trips to wilderness areas in New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut and elsewhere in the northeast.

DON’T MISS: Seaman’s Memorial, Battery Park; and the Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, for a martini and stupendous views of Central Park: