Where to Run in San Antonio, Texas – Part 1

Jan 12, 2006 | January 2006, Running

A street guide to running in San Antonio

By Paul Baltutis

Trying to find information about running courses in San Antonio is no easy feat.

Not a lot of info on this topic seems to be available in print or on local running Web sites. I hope that this three-part series about running courses reveals the best locations in town so that this knowledge can be passed to a wide audience.

Parts one and two of this series will describe known courses, while part three will include lesser known courses that runners use around their neighborhoods. For example, in part three I’ll include some courses I use for my marathon training around the SeaWorld area.

I encourage runners to write or call me about any course, whether it is their favorite neighborhood run or additional information about a known course that I might have left out.

For starters, I decided to refer to one of the few books written about local running. In 1983, Dennis Keating wrote a booklet, Running Around in San Antonio. This booklet included a list of 18 running courses in town and was meant to highlight the common areas that runners would frequent.

Since San Antonio has changed quite a bit since 1983, I’ll start by reviewing and updating this list. On each course or location I’ll add the run-ability of these venues. One shoe is lowest, while four shoes is highest.

1. South Texas Medical Center Track, on Babcock Road.

Measuring in at a half-mile, it is a very short course. A long-distance runner would go bananas having to do so many laps. Time probably goes by better if you have a partner to run with or if you bring along your MP3 player. At least there are plenty of people using it through-out the day. Another advantage of this course is that it is safe and lit at night.

2. UTSA area.

Perhaps back in 1983, traffic on the 1604 access road was reasonable, but I’m not crazy about running anywhere near 1604 unless it’s Sunday morning. There’s too much new development and traffic around the UTSA campus area now. The area outside Loop 1604 on Kyle Sealy and Sonoma Parkway has potential, but the UTSA area has become too congested.

3. McAllister Park.

Probably the best running park in town and worth the drive to get there. It is one of the few places in San Antonio that acknowledges that runners do in fact exist. There are some decent trails, paved and unpaved, within its confines. It will probably take you several trips to McAllister to discover all the interconnecting trails. You’ll enjoy communing with nature while you are there, but eventually you’ll probably have to venture outside the park for serious marathon training. If you’ve never been to McAllister Park, don’t worry — about 80 percent of the road races in San Antonio are held there. Don’t forget to start at Pavilion #1, better known as the Al Becken Pavilion, named for one of the founders of the San Antonio Roadrunners.

4. Olmos Park.

Running in Olmos Park is one of the best-kept secrets in San Antonio. The town has shady streets, gently rolling hills and architecturally stunning houses. And you can’t beat Contour Drive for rain forest-like scenery, though it is a bit narrow in some parts. There are ways to run multiple loops and add up some serious mileage around Olmos Park with its curvy streets and traffic circles. Keating’s recommendation to access Olmos Park by parking at the Olmos Basin Park on Devine Road and running west on Dick Friedrick into the township is still valid. One drawback to Olmos Park is that the residential streets always seem to be under construction, but it is still well worth a training run there.

5. Trinity University Course.

(Hildebrand and Stadium Drive). It is another short course, about .75 miles long, but because it is a trail, it is a better place to do multiple loops. The trail also has some good ups and downs; you will probably want to jump off the trail and explore some of the flatter areas around Trinity. (Good luck trying to find any!) I would definitely add some mileage to this course by running down campus and locating their all-weather running track next to the athletic fields. Another nice feature about Trinity is that it connects up to No. 6. on the list, Brackenridge Park, via Tuleta Road.
6. Brackenridge Park.

This park is centrally located and is one of the oldest and most scenic parks in San Antonio. My research uncovered some interesting tidbits. Alcohol is not permitted on the East/South side of the San Antonio River on the Witte/Joske Pavilion side, while alcohol is permitted on the Northern/Western side of the park at the Zoo/Koehler pavilion. Needless to say, the St. Patrick’s Day 5K finishes at the Koehler Pavilion. The Park itself has a variety of woods, trails, paved streets and sidewalks, and a river runs through it! Runs from two to five miles are possible within the park. I often add mileage by running down the Bike Path off Mulberry and Avenue B to the water fountain at the Brackenridge Golf Course clubhouse, then turning around back to the park. There is also an interesting road that goes behind the Sunken Garden Theater and the Japanese Tea Garden and reconnects with St. Mary’s by the Zoo entrance. It’s too bad they couldn’t have left the wooded area of the park alone and chose to pave it, but it is still too good a place to pass up.

Paul Baltutis is the manager of Soler’s Sports at 5933 Broadway in Alamo Heights. He is a certified marathon coach with Team in Training. He can be reached at (210)930-3148 or pbaltutis@satx.rr.com.

Continue reading Where to Run in San Antonio – Part 2.

South Texas Fitness & Health