May 25, 2011
I took a couple of days off after the Great Wall Marathon, although it’s not like I really had a choice. I don’t think I could have run even if I wanted to. However, walking around Beijing on my way to the Silk Street Market, I went through the Qingfeng Park on the Tonghui River. It’s a nice park that looks like a prime space for running.
However, before I get to the park, I have to explain my reservations about running in Beijing. It’s one polluted city. I can see what the Olympic athletes were complaining about. After a couple of miles I would feel what they were complaining about too.
The US Consulate tweets air quality reports as @BeijingAir, and most of the time I was in Beijing it was rated from “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” to “Very Unhealthy”. Traffic started around 4 am and went for most of the day, filling the air with diesel fumes.
Despite that, the day was fairly nice. I could see some blue sky, but as I left my hotel at 7 am it already felt like it was above 30 C. That’s fine because I only wanted a light run to stretch out the legs before I went to the airport.
The park is really nice, and stretches for a about a mile along the river. Most of the nice area is on the south bank, but there’s a decent to nice path along the other bank too. This area used to be a big deal in the canal commerce of China as far back as the 13th century. Most of the decorations around the park look like the sails of boats.
At first, I thought the path was closed off. From far off, I could see fences across some points in the path. I didn’t let that deter me. If I couldn’t get by them I’d just turn around.
It looks like it is closed off
But they really just interlocking fences to make it difficult for anything other than pedestrians to pass through. I’m glad that I didn’t change my path earlier or it might have been a much more boring run.
It’s not really not closed off
I started on the south bank running east. I ran for about a mile, past many fisherman, none of whom seemed to ever catch anything. I saw a few foreigners out running too, and some locals running in street clothes. I felt a bit self-conscious in my normal running kit, thinking that I might be a bit indecent by local standards. No one was looking at me funny though, at least no more than they were when I was walking around in my normal clothes.
The south side, although facing west
The turn around was a bit of a hassle because I had to cross six (or more) lanes of traffic. There are traffic signals and crosswalks, but it was also rush hour with bikes and scooters using any available space to go any direction they pleased. I had to be bold and fearless to make it across the street even with the walk signal.
By this time, I was already feeling the heat and my lungs were burning a little, and not in any good way. My legs were definitely heavy but feeling better the longer I ran.
The other side of the river isn’t as nice, but it’s still mostly a good path. One of the buildings even has a Jian-10 fighter mounted in front of it.
The north side, not as pretty but still good
A fighter jet in front of a building
I was pretty cooked at the end, so I sat in the shade for a bit to cool off. Behind me, a group of people were dong Tai Chi.