Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Known for its lush greenery during the monsoons, the Sanjay Gandhi or Borivali National Park – known as the Lungs of the City – is popular amongst the running community in Mumbai. Entry into the ‘BNP’ starts at 5.30 am for pass-holders and 7.30 am for people with day tickets. The hilly terrain is sure to get your blood pumping. The park is widely used by cyclists as well.
“I like running in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park as there are no vehicles, traffic or pollution. It is more peaceful compared to roads. There is a 700-metre trek and I do loops. If I am running 12km or 30km or 40km, I have the all the support (in the park), as there is a water station as well as ambulance service. There are security guards and CCTV cameras in front of the gate. Hence, I feel safe,” says Deepa Katrodia from Borivali.
In the sprawling city of Mumbai - a city of sights, sounds and colours - there are plenty of places for runners to thrive. We hit up some dedicated runners in the metropolis to enquire about the best places to run and their reasons for it. From dedicated running tracks to a picturesque roadway, these are their answers.
Popularly known as PDP, Priyadarshini Park is a boon for runners thanks to its 400-metre Olympic standard synthetic running track, a 500-metre dirt track and an artificial beach by the sea! It is open to the public from 5 am to 9 pm and has free entry. Aspiring marathon runners can make use of the 400-metre eight-lane synthetic track while others can use it for interval training – an important part of the training process. It is well-maintained and located at Nepean Sea Road, South Mumbai.
“PDP is the best in the world as it’s not just a running track but also a world-standard athletic track. There’s a track for walkers and joggers outside the PDP track. On the athletics track, we can do the field work, intervals and all the scientific training that athletes do,” says Kranti Salve of South Mumbai.
Malabar Hill, one of the poshest areas in Mumbai, lies atop a 50-metre high hillock and is perfect for runners to get their daily dose of fitness. Runners get to work out different muscle groups as the sharp inclines challenge them differently.
“I also prefer the loops at Malabar Hill, Hanging Gardens. I start from Teenbatti down the hill. Then I go to Babulnath and via Peddar Road up the Hanging Garden road, up the hill and towards the Ridge Road, and again! It’s one loop around the hill and it’s a good workout going up and down the hills!” SoBo resident Kranti exclaims.
A 3.6km-long boulevard by the Arabian sea, Marine Drive is a favourite for runners. Located in South Mumbai, Marine Drive sees all the year round a large number of people running along its palm tree-lined stretch to stay fit.
“The most enjoyable place is the Marine Drive stretch. It is basically fresh air and open sea and you get to see people running by. It’s really good. It feels good,” Babloo Tarwale says.
Badlapur Pipeline Road
The Badlapur Pipeline Road is a fine route for those situated in or about Thane. A favourite with several running groups in the area, it offers excellent connectivity and is a well-maintained and welcoming stretch of road.
“I am regularly running on the Badlapur Pipeline Road which is near Kalyan city. Whenever I get the time, I run towards the Eastern Express Highway. I run with a group called the Kalyan-Dombivali Runners Group, which regularly practises on the Badlapur Pipeline Road and whenever I don’t get time to run with them, I run on the Eastern Express Highway,” Thane resident Nilesh Samant says.
A short distance away from the city, running on the Gorai Road is a superb experience. The road is very well maintained and the proximity to the beach makes it ideal for a leisurely run.
“I mostly run on the Gorai Road. My reason is that it is surrounded by hills and forest areas which help me perform best. Also it is slightly hilly and I get to practise my ups and downs, and do hill-training. Apart from that road, I also enjoy running on coastal attractions like Nariman Point and Marine Lines. I usually run in the early morning hours or late evening,” Ankit Singh, resident of Mira Road, says.
Located in the heart of the city, this 225-acre spread of open land boasts a 2,400m oval-shaped track. Open to the general public for a limited period of time every day, it is an ideal place for morning runners who are preparing for a long-distance run.
“My best place to run is the Mahalaxmi Racecourse because there are no vehicles at all. There are hardly any such vehicle-free zones in Mumbai and it also has a two-kilometre track which is a rarity in the city. It is totally for the public and there is no traffic at all. Besides that it is a big and clear road,” says Javerikumar Jain, who lives in Lalbaug.
Bandra to NCPA
Approximately 20kms, this route will test your endurance and stamina but also take you along some of the most beautiful sights in the city. Starting from Carter Road, this route gives you an excellent view of the sea and takes you past landmarks such as St. Michael’s Church, Shivaji Park and Siddhi Vinayak Temple, on to the Worli Sea Face and finally ends at the NCPA.
“My best place to run is from Bandra to NCPA. It’s totally connected to the sea face. It’s a good, pleasant environment and throughout the road you will find the public running. When they are running or jogging, it motivates me. The view from there is also good,” Bhavin Dalal says.