Becoming a runner isn’t easy. If you are going to partake in the self-inflicted suffering that sometimes comes with becoming a runner, you might as well do in the best environment possible. Let me count down the top five reasons why I think that the Bow River Pathway is the best place to go for a run in Calgary.

5. The options:

If your morning run takes you through St. George’s Island and also has you cross the bridge over the Bow River in Edworthy Park, there is a good chance you just ran a half marathon. Congratulations. You are officially a super-human, or possibly a liar. Either way, for those of us who can’t pound out an easy 20k every morning there are multiple different loops to consider. The Peace Bridge to Crowchild and back is about 6k. Extend the east leg of that loop through Eau Claire, cross the river at the 4th Street Bridge and you’ve got yourself a 10k. The Bow River pathway is a great place to fit in among a wide spectrum of newbies and seasoned joggers.

4. The people:

Yes, I realize that this is a big notch in the negative category for some people. But not for me. Avoiding sightseers or slower joggers keeps you alert and being passed by a faster runner keeps you humble. I personally find the motivation I get from all of the friendly smiles and knowing head-nods outweighs the occasional annoyance of a dog leash or a little kid on rollerblades. Plus, if you’re the type of runner who gets visibly irate (I’ve seen it) when a child, tourist or a small animal ruins your split maybe you have some other non-exercise related issues you need to sort out before you start raising your heart-rate in public.

3. The variety in environment:

It is easy to take for granted how little time it takes to feel like you are in the middle of nature in the Bow River valley. In one instant you will be passing through Eau Claire in the shadow of the Calgary skyline and mere minutes later you will find yourself without a building in site in the middle of Edworthy Park. The twists and turns in the river allow for plenty of opportunities to stop and catch your breath in a beautiful secluded spot next to the flowing water.

2. The Wildlife

I’ve spotted deer on morning trips through Edworthy Park, there’s the conspicuous osprey nest along Memorial drive and two weeks ago I saw a bald eagle circling above the river near Point McKay. I appreciate the fact that a run through the river valley doesn’t compare to a real nature retreat, but remember we’re talking about a pathway that lies less than a kilometer from the front door of thousands of Calgarians.

1. The construction is almost complete

That’s right. For the past two summers we’ve all had to collectively deal with the construction of Poppy Plaza near Memorial and 10th Street NW. But apparently it will all be worth it in a matter of weeks. There has also been the ongoing development of the East Village River Walk. But to be honest, that is all coming together quite nicely what with all of the new wooden pathways, glass railings and green reclining chairs. Granted I am one of these bourgeois inner-city-dwellers that thinks the Peace Bridge was worth all of the money and delays, but don’t take it from me: go run the pathway and see for yourself.

I know for a fact that there will be people who think I’m out of my mind saying this is the best place to run in Calgary. What’s your favorite place to run in the city? Nose Hill Park? Glenmore Reservoir? Fish Creek? Please, let me know what you think so I can share your thoughts with other CIA readers down the road: marc@calgaryisawesome.com