Whether it’s the realisation that college food is taking its toll, the desire to resuscitate the glory days of Year 7 cross country, or just a desperate attempt to break away from the monotony of work, there are many good reasons to go out for a run in Oxford – but where to go?
The University’s myriad running societies provide an excellent entry point for fresh-faced first-years, but for those looking for a more independent run, they may not be the shoes that fit. Here I hope to provide a review of several places in which to run in and around Oxford, based on a fresher’s first foray into running here, to illuminate those wondering where to start, or perhaps just seeking a new route.
The most obvious port of call is Christ Church Meadow. Central and popular, the meadow offers a nice circuit with great views of Oxford from its far side, decent terrain (provided there isn’t another freak snowfall), and is mercifully flat. There’s also the added bonus of running past some rowers and enjoying the feeling that you’re staying fit without having to wear those questionable unisuits. However, the meadow can get very busy, and the danger of encountering that college crush in a sweaty mess always looms.
Not as centrally located as Christ Church Meadow, University Parks are nevertheless well worth trying out, particularly for those craving those classic sports field vibes. It may not have the views of Oxford to be enjoyed at Christ Church Meadow, but the idyllic tributary of the Thames from which this newspaper gets its name provides equally satisfying serenity during a good jog. The many paths criss-crossing the parks allow for some experimentation with routes, all of which are again very flat.
If you feel like heading further field, and don’t mind slightly more treacherous terrain, Port Meadow may be the place for you, provided you’re fortunate enough to have a bit more time on your hands – I’m looking at you, historians. Views across the meadow on a misty morning are truly stunning, and its size means you can enjoy the experience of a proper escape from the city.
An honourable mention should perhaps go to Aston’s Eyot, down beyond the Iffley Sports Complex. It may be some distance from most colleges, but if you want to get away from other runners/people/any sense of civilisation, give it a look. Just beware the prevalence of nettles on some of its lesser-beaten tracks!
It may well be that all or none of these places appeals to the runner in you, but I would wholeheartedly recommend giving each of them at least a try, for a bit of variety if nothing else. Happy jogging!