Michael Capiraso On His Favorite Routes To Run in New York City
Michael Capiraso on a Lifetime of Running in New York City
Michael Capiraso’s life has been defined by a long career in business marketing, leadership, and brand development, and running. In the last decade-plus, these things have intertwined. From 2015–2020, Michael was President and CEO of New York Road Runners, organizing the NYC marathon each year. Now, he has joined the board of JoggingBuddy, a fast-growing social media app that supports and connects runners of all ages, speeds, and disciplines.
NYRR exists to serve the running community, organizing events and programs that keep the miles coming for anyone who wants them. In 2019, NYRR runners raised more than $45 million for various charities. Michael has run the NYC Marathon 28 times in a row, every year since 1991 minus years when global disruptions pandemic and canceled the race.
Central Park: Michael Capariso’s Most Cherished Running Spots
Over the years, many of Michael’s miles have been run on the varied and beautiful courses of New York’s Central Park. The route options that runners have in Central Park are pretty incredible, and runners can choose from many different distances and difficulties. The park’s size, beauty, and versatility have been instrumental in helping NYC’s running culture develop, and Michael Capariso relishes every mile.
The Reservoir Running Track
This 1.58-mile loop is perfect for tempo and speed workouts, and is one of Central Park’s best spots for running and walking. The crushed gravel surface is soft on the knees and easy on the ankles, ideal for anyone who wants to get in shape while protecting their joints. Named the Stephanie and Fred Sherman Reservoir Running Track and located between 86th and 96th streets, this location wasn’t nearly as popular before the 1960s, when running first started to explode in the zeitgeist. Today, the 100-year-old reservoir is surrounded by an ornamental fence, perfect for stretching and observing the serene beauty of the area.
The Six-Mile Central Park Loop
Named after the first president of the New York Road Runners, Ted Corbitt, this loop is ideal for 10K runs on pavement. It’s a wonderful loop that offers runners and walkers excellent views of some of the park’s best views. Runners can go clockwise or counterclockwise on this trail, but the vast majority of them choose to go counterclockwise on the road.
Other Great Loops in Central Park
Central Park’s Lower Loop is just under 2 miles long and is great for warmups or short runs on busy days. The Harlem Meer loop is 4 miles long and can be a great way to get some miles in while enjoying a bit of natural bliss in the urban jungle.
If you’re more of a trail runner, Central Park has exactly what you’re looking for — many miles can be run off the pavement, offering a uniquely challenging experience without forcing you to leave the city.
While the park does offer a lot of ground for runners, it’s ground that will be shared with cyclists, walkers, people with rollerblades or strollers, and even the occasional horse carriage. So, while you’re enjoying one of the Central Park loops, just be mindful that you can’t zone out completely.
The NYC Marathon Finish Line
Central Park is also one of the most important segments of the NYC Marathon, hosting the last few miles of the race as well as the finish line at the iconic Tavern on the Green. Flags from dozens of different countries greet runners at the finish line, and they are able to enjoy some of Central Park’s most incredible views as they tear down those last three miles. It’s a great way to finish a race, and the feeling never gets old.
Facts and Tips for Central Park Runners from Michael Capiraso
Want to start running in Central Park but feel lost on where to begin or intimidated by the vastness and culture of the park? While you shouldn’t hesitate to simply lace up your shoes and pound out a few miles, these tips, facts, and hints from lifetime runner Michael Capiraso will help you get from the warmup to the finish line:
Central Park Fast Facts
- The park covers a 683-acre section of Manhattan
- Central Park touches many parts of the island: Upper East, Upper West, and Midtown.
- It receives nearly 38 million visitors each year, making it one of the world’s most popular parks.
10 Central Park Tips for Beginner Runners
- Wear comfortable running shoes that fit your feet.
- Make sure your shoes are broken in so that you don’t develop blisters or sore muscles.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after your run to maximize the benefits and your own enjoyment.
- Choose your surface well — pavement isn’t good for everyone, and people with arthritis or other issues may do better on gravel or dirt that will have less impact on their joints.
- Central Park’s rules usually require runners to stay on the right side of any path and only use the left side to pass.
- Be aware of bicyclists and try to listen for them coming up behind you.
- Always look behind you before moving into the left side of the path to pass someone.
- Always look both ways before entering an intersection or joining a new running path.
- Be on the lookout for tourists — they love to stop randomly to take photos!
- If you get lost, look for a set of four numbers on any lamppost. The first two numbers tell you what street in the city you’re closest to, and the second pair of numbers will tell you whether you’re on the east (even numbers) or west (odd numbers) side of the park.
Central Park is one of the greatest places in the world to run. As long as you’re stretched, hydrated, and paying attention to the rules of the road, you’re going to have an incredible time!
About Michael Capiraso
Michael has been an avid runner for more than 30 years and has competed in 28 consecutive NYC Marathons since 1991. He has also enjoyed a long career helping different businesses expand and grow their brands, from Calvin Klein to the NFL. Michael joined NYRR in 2010 and took over as President and CEO in 2015. Although Central Park is his top place to run, Michael has favorite routes in all five of New York City’s boroughs.