Running on New York City Summer Streets

Oh what fun I had running in the rain of New York City Summer Streets the day before the NYC Triathlon! If you’re not familiar with the New York City Summer Streets, don’t worry – neither was I!

That is, until I took a taxi in NYC in the summertime.

If you’ve taken a taxi in NYC, you’re familiar with the little TVs in the backseat that play the same loop of news, commercials, and snippets of late-night shows I’m too old to stay up and watch. If you’ve taken a cab in NYC in the summertime, you’re likely familiar with the promos for New York City Summer Streets. I took a LOT of cabs in NY last weekend, and thus saw a LOT of promos for the Summer Streets. Over and over and over.

NYC Summer Streets map

So you’d think I would have put 2 + 2 together the day before the NYC Triathlon when I ran out the door of the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side at 7am on a Saturday and thought: “where can I go for a good pre-race-keep-it-loose run”?

Nope. Forgot all about it.

So imagine my surprise when I headed out the door in the pouring rain, ran a few blocks headed towards Central Park, and stumbled upon this:

NYC Run Summer Streets

“WHAT? A huge, empty Park Avenue? What is going on?!”, I thought to myself.

Then suddenly it dawned on me – I found my running spot right in the middle of NYC! Here’s what the Summer Streets is all about:

About Summer Streets

Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space—our streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation. In 2013, more than 300,000 people took advantage of the open streets.

Summer Streets is modeled on other events from around the world including Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia and the Paris Plage in France. The event is part bike tour, part walking tour, part block party—a great time for exercise, people watching, or just enjoying summer mornings. Passersby are weclome to participate in arts and crafts workshops, listen to musical performances, learn to salsa dance, eat healthy snacks, climb a 25′ climbing wall, soar through the sky on a 160′ zipline and explore a 179 years voice tunnel.

Held between 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, with easy access from all points in New York City, allowing participants to plan a trip as long or short as they wish. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.

Summer Streets is a project of the New York City Department of Transportation.

So I headed running down the street in the rain. Whee!

New York Summer Streets rain

And I had a blast! No waiting at crosswalks, no people, no curbs to trip over – just me and the open road! Oh, and the rain.

Running in NYC rain

At 7am in the rain, the streets weren’t crowded, so it was a thrill to have a New York street practically to myself for a run. I ran all the way down to the Helmsley Building.

Running in NYC
I decided to run under cover through the building before turning around. Fine, a 3-mile run was all I had planned, but I’ll bump it to a 4 miler for a totally unique experience!

Running through Grand Central

It was fun to come out the other side and be on the elevated street that my taxi drove on the day before!

NYC Summer Streets

More runners were starting to join me on the Summer Streets as I neared my turnaround.

NYC Summer Streets

Grand Central Selfie time!


Run at Grand Central

I forgot how much my Garmin hates New York City, and apparently the auto-pause feature really REALLY hates New York City. My watch was totally screwy – pausing when I was running, losing GPS, you name it. But I am pretty certain I ran 4 miles, because I had no issues until after mile 2 and my route was a straight out-and-back.

NYC Summer Streets rain

Thanks to all the awesome police and the volunteers helping with the traffic and safety in the pouring rain. There were some streets that had crossovers by side streets, and there were helpful STOP-GO signs held up by volunteers at these intersections that were easy to see as I approached.

NYC Summer Streets run

I noticed on that there’s one more Summer Streets day coming up – hopefully it won’t be rainy and it will be filled with fun activities. What a cool way to enjoy the city – it made me wish were were coming back for the next few Saturdays!

New York City Summer Streets Map

I got back to the Ronald McDonald House and I was soaking wet, but glad I did the 4 mile run to stay in shape for the Triathlon the next day. Plus, it was tons of fun!

Soaking wet from running in rain

It makes me want to go back to NY next August (I’ll likely have another doc appointment for my daughter there at that time anyhow), and check out the other activities they list – a zip line, salsa dancing, rock climbing wall?! Wow.

Running in the rain – yay or nay?

Have you ever run in New York City?

Have you been on the New York City Summer Streets and done anything fun?


Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

Cynthia Steele is a runner, triathlete, & working mom of 3 little kids. She has lost 50 pounds through fitness and healthy eating and writes about fitting in all this crazy stuff while juggling work and kids.
Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?!

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  1. says

    Thank you so much for posting about this! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the last day – I’m going to one of my good friend’s wedding – but I’ll be sure to share this…

  2. says

    I keep seeing people post about this and I wish I lived closer to NYC! It’d be so cool to do this. And it’s cool that you ran through that building. I have driven through it a few times and always thought it was so unique and interesting that you just drive kind of through a building in the middle of a city. I think next week is the last summer streets? Maybe I’ll have to drive up :)
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  3. Tiffany says

    I have yet to really run in the rain, but need to invest in a pod jacket and visor like yours before I do! I always wimp out and hit the treadmills at the gym in the event of inclement weather.

  4. says

    This is so nest! I’m heading to NY on Wednesday for the weekend and have a long run scheduled for Saturday and was looking into places where I could run. Thanks for sharing!

  5. says

    So much fun, I loved reading this post! I haven’t been to NYC in the summer, but I can imagine how awesome it would be!
    I’ve ran in the rain numerous times, I love it:) Once had to run a marathon in a constant cold rain downpour the entire time with hail at the end, loved the experience but I am okay if I don’t have to do that again:)
    I ran the NYC Marathon a few years back and I absolutely loved running through the streets and different areas, there is just something special about that crazy big city:) It’s like a chance to run through the movies and history and the future all at the same time:)
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