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Running in Kyiv won't kill you

Written by Ian Bearder

After six days of eat-all-you-like holiday laziness last week, I woke up in Kyiv this morning in a panic. In just 19 days time I am supposed to be running the 15km road race at the Kyiv Marathon, and I’m about as healthy as chicken kebab with cheese and double mayonnaise.

I need to get running, but where?

Kyiv is a wonderfully green city but that doesn’t always translate into ‘nice for running’. There are many reasons for this: the roads and pavements (that’s a side walk if you’re American)  are wide but they’re often in bad condition, the drivers drive with little or no consideration for pedestrians (and even drive on the pavements), and the stray dogs take great delight in chasing and terrorising anyone they see exercising.

In short, jogging in Kyiv isn’t very popular and it isn’t always jolly. However, it definitely is possible. In fact, it is an incredibly good way to see the city and to explore the hidden back streets and curious courtyards which you would otherwise never pass.

The city is also quite hilly, so depending on your mood and/or level of fitness, you can also run up and back down some steep slopes.

Anyway, as I lay on my bed to consider my dilemma (where to run?) I logged into couchsurfing.com and as if by magic, someone had posted a link to an article in the local press: The top 10 routes for jogging in Kyiv’

I don’t know who wrote the original, but afisha.tochka.net has the article in Russian along with some useful maps to help you on your way.

I decided to use it for this article and below is an English version which I ‘ran’ through google-translate and then tweaked to make it readable. At the end I’ve also included a couple of my own routes.

If you have any other advice, or if you know any other nice places to run please let us know by leaving a comment at the end.

Top 10 places to run in Kiev, in reverse order

Number 10. The Park at Babi Yar 

Its quite a large park, but instead of tarmac/asphalt it has slab paving which can be a nuisance. I’ve never run there, but if you don’t mind running on the grass, and you’re not put off by its history, then give it a try.

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209867726182148322643.0004bd8fc3e447c490e22&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=50.485692,30.441055&spn=0.038228,0.109863&z=13&iwloc=0004bd8fc783de2a78c86&output=embed]

Number 9. The “Spartak”stadium 

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Stadium running seems to be the most popular form of running in Kyiv (perhaps because of the aforementioned problems), and if you want to exercise like a Spartan warrior, try the Spartak stadium. The stadium is equipped with a rubberized running track, which according to the original article ‘is very pleasing to the races’.   You wont get killed by an Oligarch in a Range Rover here, but you won’t see much of the city either.  The nearest metro is probably Petrivka.

Number Eight. Solomensky Park

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Like many other routes, this route is also quite far from a metro stop, however the park has may hills and winding trails which will give your legs a god workout.

Apparently there are also several stadiums nearby, but you’ll have to find them yourself.

Number 7. Palm Lake Waterfront

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This sounds like it should be in Miami, but apparently its in Obolon and its advisable to choose a route on the other side of Moscow Avenue because it will be quieter. Its also advisable to run early in the morning or late in the evening otherwise you’ll have to run along with the traffic and trucks.

A good alternative to the Palm Lake neighbourhood is the Obolonska embankment. It runs along the side of the Dniper (the big river that splits Kyiv in two) and its a great place for running, walking and cycling.

Number 6. The Rusanovsky channel

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This is the first route on the wrong bank, sorry I mean left bank. Its a picturesque place for a morning jog and it is not far from the subway. If you run near the water, you can relax afterwards and feed the ducks who live near the bridge. You can run both on the road parallel to the channel and along the boulevard that separates the artificial island.

Number Five. The Path of Health

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With its appropriate name, this route is in a historic part of Kyiv which has long been used for fitness. The route begins in the park of Partisan Glory in the Red Farm. The trail goes through the entire park and ends in the woods.

Be careful of the two railway lines and a road that cross through the route.

Number 4. The National Botanic Garden

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This old Kyiv park (founded in 1918), with its massive trees and rough terrain is a great place to run and it is open from September to April from 8:00 am until dark, and in the summer – from 8:30 to 21:00.  The closest metro (Druhzby Narodiv) is about 10 minutes away, but annoyingly you’ll need to take some money with you as the admission fee is 5 or 10 UAH.

If you get tired of running, checkout the greenhouse gardens and the butterfly house. Both are wonderful.

Number 3. Park avenue

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209867726182148322643.0004bd8fc3e447c490e22&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=50.452422,30.536499&spn=0.009564,0.027466&z=15&iwloc=0004bd8ff33cbe7037225&output=embed]

This one is very good if you’re in the city centre.  The route goes along the ‘green zone’ on the slope that overlooks the Dnipro River and wrong left bank of Kyiv. It is no accident that the Kiev Marathon incorporates this route as part of the marathon route.

Number 2. Taras Shevchenko park. 

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Of course, Taras Shevchenko had to appear somewhere in this guide.

Located in the heart of the city TS park is one of the best kept parks in the city. Its convenient location in the centre has obvious advantages, but it has its disadvantages: an evening run around the park can be very difficult because of the large number of people.  It’s also not very big, so you’ll need to run quite a lot of laps if you want a good workout.

There’s a fountain in the park which you can drink from – a great little bonus.

Number 1. Mariinsky Park

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=209867726182148322643.0004bd8fc3e447c490e22&msa=0&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=50.447612,30.53607&spn=0.009565,0.027466&z=15&iwloc=0004bd8ffe13565b876c5&output=embed]

With its central location, well kept paths and absence of cars – Mariinsky Park is a favourite with walkers and joggers alike. If you get tired of running around at the Mariinsky, then you can go down to the stadium “Dynamo” or run the other way – in the Park of Glory which goes all the way to the Motherland statue.

All-in-all, the combined parks and monuments that line the river on the right bank offer some of the best and safest places to run in the city.

Bearder’s Bonus Routes…

Here are a few of my own favourites.

Bonus A. Trikhaniv Island

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I’m amazed that this didn’t make the top 10. Perhaps someone is trying to keep this secret for their own running pleasure? Anyway, you reach the island by crossing the footbridge near Poshtova Ploscha Metro station and once you get there, you have endless possibilities. You can stay on the roads, run through small forest tracks or even run along the beach. Despite the fact that you’re right in the city centre, you’d never know it because all you can see is forest. Also, if you take some money and you run in the evening, you can relax and enjoy a post-run beer at one of the bars near the footbridge.

Bonus B. Druhzby Narodiv hill. 

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I used to run this route when I lived in the area and its for those who don’t mind running on the pavements/sidewalks.
The route runs along some main roads, but the pavement is wide, clear and easy to run along and half of the route takes you through quiet residential areas. Its not a very long run, but almost exactly half of it is down hill and the other half uphill so its a great workout.
Have any other suggestions? Please let us know.Also, if you’re interested in running the Kyiv Marathon, don’t forget to register here. It takes place on the 6th May.

     

About the author

Ian Bearder

Ian has been living in Kyiv on-and-off since 2009 and he launched Kyiv.Cool in 2014 to promote the lighter side of life in Ukraine's crazy capital. He doesn't just love Kyiv - he feels genuinely sorry for people who don't live here.
If he's not out on his bike, he's normally wandering in Podil or exploring some forgotten corner of the city.