Few urban sites anywhere in the world can match the beauty of this 18-mile route that follows the Lake Michigan shoreline for nine miles north and nine miles south of downtown. Whenever I have visited Chicago on business, I made it a priority to run a part of this route.
People-watching along the Lakefront Path, which is one of the nation’s busiest running trails, is an added bonus, but there is much more to see than hearty, buffed Midwestern bodies. In one direction is the blue expanse of the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world, most likely dotted with sailboats and a tanker or two. In another is the Windy City’s magnificent skyline, reputed home to the nation’s first skyscraper. In between are Grant Park, Millennium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, Navy Pier, and many other well-known lakefront locations.
Check out one of the good online sites mentioned previously for running routes near specific Chicago neighborhoods, or else just go downtown and find the nearest access point to join other runners, joggers, walkers, roller bladers, and sunbathers. Those staying at the Drake Hotel can take advantage of a pedestrian tunnel that connects the hotel with the path at the Oak Street Beach.
The city’s Active Transportation Alliance has a Web site with updated conditions along the path (www.activetrans.org/lakefront), a particularly good resource during winter snow and ice conditions. Otherwise, any day -- cool and windy or hot and humid -- is a good day for a run along the lake. Chicago is many things to many people: deep dish pizza, hot dogs, the Cubs, Michael Jordan, corrupt politicians. To runners, it’s the Lakefront Path . . . or at least it should be.
P.S. Don't forget the opportunity to run with or for mom this Sunday!