As the UK’s ninth most populous city, Manchester is a teeming metropolis where it is sometimes difficult for runners to find uninterrupted routes that are both safe and challenging. The city’s parks provide something of a haven for Manchester-based joggers at all levels. The best running parks combine well-maintained paths with easy parking and good on-site facilities. Most are just a few miles from the city centre.
Situated approximately four miles north of the city centre, Heaton Park runners a traffic-free environment and pleasing visual distractions, such as a boating lake, reservoir and manor house. All running routes are on well-surfaced paths, making them suitable for running throughout the year. The 254 hectare park has the largest available running distance for those seeking to clock up some serious miles. Heaton Park is home to the annual Halloween Howler Fancy Dress 5K Fun Run and a weekly beginners’ running group.
Runners meet on the first Sunday of every month to take part in the Alexandra Park 5K, using a course that is certified by UK Athletics. For the rest of the month, runners of all abilities use paths within the park, which are flat and surfaced with tarmac. Facilities include changing accommodation and showers, toilets and an information centre. Alexandra Park is the most convenient for drivers, as there is ample parking around the perimeter of the park.
As the largest municipal park in the Trafford borough, Longford Park covers approximately 21 hectares. The park’s many paths are popular with both joggers and walkers. Sites such as walkjogrun.net provide maps of extended runs that take in the park’s surrounding area. The park has the most to offer runners interms of facilities. It is home to the Longford Athletics Stadium, public toilets and changing rooms, and the Firswood Community Centre. Longford Park is three miles south-west of Manchester city centre, on the border of Stretford and Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
Set in 109 hectares of open parkland, Wythenshawe Park in South Manchester provides the most picturesque routes. Its paths pass through historic and ornamental woodlands, amenity grassland and beautiful wildflower meadows. Facilities include a 400m-running running track, café, toilets and changing rooms at the Stable block and Horticultural Centre and a visitors’ centre. The park is home to the annual Sale Five run, which covers five miles.