Whether you want to jog around the block near your hotel or take a 40-km. run through Berlin's Grunewald Park—where the deer and the wild boar play—A Runner's Guide to Europe ( Penguin Books, paperback, $5.95) is just what you need. Coauthors Jere Van Dyk, a sometime 4:00.1 miler from the University of Oregon, and Aden Hayes have done their homework and put together a compendium of running venues covering 24 cities from Helsinki to Florence.
The Guide offers an assortment of city runs and tells how to get to the most suitable parks, forests, tracks and boulevards. The authors heartily endorse riding the train, subway or bus in sweat suits to more distant courses.
They tell you what to wear; when to run to beat the traffic; where not to run and what cultural attractions, restaurants and pubs are along the route. They also fill the reader in on local customs, climate and personal safety, especially as it pertains to female runners—plus information about pharmacies, hospitals and swimming, tennis and squash facilities.
Van Dyk's and Hayes' favorite courses include Edinburgh's Holyrood Park, Paris' Bois de Boulogne, Oslo's Sognsvann forest, Copenhagen's Jaegersborg Dyrehave (3,500 acres of woods, hills and ponds, which, the authors claim, is perhaps the best running site in Europe), Brussels' For�t de Soignes and Helsinki's Pirkkola Sports Park. A Van Dyk-Hayes special: a predawn lope to the Acropolis for an inspiring view of Athens and the sea beyond.
Though the Guide lists running loops in all 24 cities, Rome is described as "a tough course" and Milan as a place with comparatively few places for runners to "stride out."
The Van Dyk-Hayes directions can get quite complicated as they suggest several options for running a course—varying distances and degrees of difficulty—while trying to keep the runner from getting lost. Schematic maps would have helped.
But that omission is balanced out by:
A glossary so the dehydrated runner can order iced tea in Greek (krio tsai), yogurt in Finnish (jugurtti) or dark beer in Swedish (m�rkt �l).
Anecdotal wisdom. Women runners should avoid Dublin's Connelly Street train station area at night because it gets "a bit ugly," the authors, who apparently have run every course in the Guide, tell us. They also advise buying cloudberries (known as laaka) in Helsinki's central outdoor market after a run and not to worry about the bats in Madrid's Retiro Park because they hang out only along a short stretch. The National Gardens, they say, are "the only spot in central Athens where you can smell the eucalyptus over the exhaust fumes," and they warn you to keep off the grass in Viennese parks.
Whether you're in Europe on business or vacation, the Guide says that running offers a special advantage. Write Van Dyk and Hayes, " Paris at dawn—before the cars, the horns and the traffic jams—is quiet, clear and stunning; and it can best be seen on a run."