With Rocky Mountain National Park right in its backyard (not to mention Boulder) you’d be forgiven for overlooking Denver as a running destination. But a closer inspection of this city just might change your mind.
In this piece we dig into the reasons why Denver could be one of the best cities in the country for runners (if not the overall top dog).
Denver’s nickname is the “Mile High City” because, as the name implies, it sits at 5,280 feet of elevation. Sure there are places where you can live and train at a higher elevation (hello, Flagstaff), but access to even higher elevation is just a short drive out of town. (The Flatirons are only about 30 miles from downtown Denver.)
In some places of the world it’s quite possible that you don’t – or won’t – have to contend with colder weather and snow. Not so in Denver. (They got a little over 48 inches last year.) And while you might not enjoy training in colder weather, it’ll make you a grittier, and (some would argue) better runner. But don’t let Denver’s cold weather turn you off. In the summer, temperatures can get well up into the 80s. If you live here, you’ll experience a little bit of everything weather-wise.
Lots of people are drawn to running for its solitary nature. You can go when you want, where you want, at your own pace, etc. But in recent years there’s been a surge in running clubs and running group meetups. These community-focused groups have helped transform running from a solitary pursuit to something that allows us to connect with others. In Denver, check out the Free Weekly Run Club that meets at the trendy and hip Milk Market in the LoDo neighborhood. They run a handful of miles together and then grab some free food inside the market afterwards.
The presence of a number of running clubs should be a tip-off that the running and racing scene in Denver is alive and well. And it’s true. There are tons of races in Denver held throughout the year, everything from a one-mile race to the marathon which means that you can begin training and peak pretty much whenever you choose. Check out upcoming races in Denver here.
Specialty Running Stores
Denver’s got the routes, the running clubs, and the races, and to top it all off it’s got a couple of great specialty running stores that will get you into a pair of kicks that look and feel good. Visiting a specialty running store means you’ll get the proper fit which is super important for keeping injuries at bay and logging consistent miles. Check out Berkeley Park Running Company and Runner’s Roost.
Urban Parks and Open Spaces
Denver locals have it really good when it comes to parks and open spaces. They have over 5,000 acres of parks and parkways at their fingertips so the options for unique running routes on all different kinds of surfaces are numerous.
Want vehicle-free paths that cut through green spaces? No problem. Looking for a grassy section to do speedwork? Also not a problem. There are even some dirt surfaces within the city that can stave off the trail running blues and tide you over until the weekend. Check out Cherry Creek State Park for all of the above.
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are based in Asheville, North Carolina, but are currently traveling the country in their van. You can follow along with their adventures at Authentic Asheville.
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