I take the A train and after 40 minutes reach the final stop. It's 207St. at Inwood, at the northern tip of the island. My goal is to run along the Hudson River, all the way south from Fort Tyron Park to Battery Park. According to Goggle Maps it is 21.6k (13.4 miles).
I run uphill a couple of hundred yards. The incline is not easy. I breath heavily, my body is still cold and I can barely move my feet. I enter the park which overlooks the river. It is quite big, about 67 acres, or 270 dunams, very green and its paved paths are surrounded by foliage.
In the 16 and 17 centuries it was home to a local Native-American tribe, the Lenape. Dutch settlers called it Lange Bergh (Long Hill). In 1776 it witnessed the "battle of Fort Washington", one of the important clashes between Patriots and the British forces, during the American Revolution War.
In the 20th century billionaire and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, purchased the dozen estates built here and financed a public park inaugurated in 1935.
After one mile I realize that I have lost my way and find myself at the peak by the "Cloisters". It is a splendid medieval castle in the city. "The Cloisters" is made of actual medieval French cloisters, dismantled in the 1930s, shipped to the US and purchased by Rockefeller who donated them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It is as an extension of the Met Museum and houses a nice collection of European medieval and renaissance tapestry, paintings, sculpture and other artifacts.
I stoop and try to reorient myself and get to the river. I am still puzzled, so I ask few other runners who also are confused and don't know where to direct me. Eventually I decide to run down along a street which is parallel to the railroads and the river but some 200 yards away.
It’s a nasty day, cloudy with limited visibility. Temperatures are fine – in the low 40's (6-7 Celsius degrees). I wear two layers and
after 1.5 mile (2.5k) in a modest but long uphill climb, I am sufficiently warm and take off my gloves and hat. Looming ahead is the massive structure of the George Washington Bridge (GWB) which seems close. But the sense of its proximity is misleading, like an optical illusion. It is actually more than a mile away.
GWB is one of the main thoroughfares connecting the city to New Jersey. The clouds dispersed and I can see the skyline of Fort Lee across the river. I can only imagine how beautiful the landscape is in a clear, sunny day.
When I pass under the bridge, its powerful magnitude is even more impressive. It is a double deck suspension bridge with two towers, as its bases on each bank. Each deck has seven lanes in each direction. The upper deck has pedestrian and bike lanes. According to official data 105 million vehicles crossed it in 2017, making it the world's busiest bridge. When it was inaugurated in 1931, GWB was the longest span bridge in the world, and held this record for six years, until the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
I notice a few workers digging under the tower and a horror thought crosses my mind: what if it collapses right now on my head….I accelerate my pace and the bridge is behind me. After a few minutes I reach a small park on 175th St. which leads me to the waterfront.
It is 10:30 am on a Saturday and I see only a few runners. Despite the gloomy weather, my spirits improve. I suppose the quiet flow of the river currents radiate calm. My pace is stable, between 6:10 to 6:25 per kilometer. When I am carried away and speed up, I immediately slow down, reprimand myself and return to my steady pace. My 25 years of running have taught me that self-discipline and restraint is one of the most important traits for a long-distance runner.
On my left I see the massive buildings with red bricks and gray stone of Columbia University. From my previous runs in the area I know that on my left at 121 St. stands the bronze statue of Hiram Ulysses Grant, the General who defeated the Confederates in the Civil War and, at the age of 46, was elected as the youngest US President in 19th century. I want to climb the small hill and pay my tribute but it's dangerous, suicidal to cross the busy West Side Highway, which is also called Henry Hudson Parkway.
I almost reach my half way mark. I keep running south in the lovely Riverside Park. The view turns familiar with NYC skyscrapers. Less than half an hour later I am under the flyover around 65th-60th streets. On my left stands the residential towers once named after Donald Trump, but not owned by him, when he was a hot branding commodity. But, I learnt that after his election as president, residents removed his name from the buildings.
I won't surprise anyone if I say that he is not my cup of tea. My gut feeling is that he will end up as the worst president in modern American history. Worse than Zachary Taylor, Hebert Hoover, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore combined together.
After 17k I get to 46th, near the Intrepid Museum. I begin to feel my fatigue. My right foot hurts. It's an old trouble. I stop and stretch against a bench. After a minute or so the pain is less noticeable and I continue my journey. I am determined to finish the bloody run no matter what. I pass Chelsea. Four more kilometers and I am there.
I turn right westward at Battery Park City. I was told that in the 60's and 70's it was a nice beach with people in swimming suits bathing and swimming. But then well known architects came with an ambitious project. They used tens of thousands tones of soil dug when the Twin Towers were built and created an artificial island, to house tall fancy residential buildings on the waterfront.
I have only 1 more k. I limp a bit but am happy. Sweating, wet and tired, I reach Battery Park, my final destination. I look south and see the Statute of Liberty. I turn northbound and see the Freedom Tower. Mission accomplished. My watch shows 23k. Later measuring the course in my computer it says I ran 24.5k.