It’s not clear from the outset that Mendoza is a runner’s city. If you run too far north you find sidewalks missing important chunks and streets blocked by construction. If you run on San Martin or Las Heras when people have just gotten out of work you’re faced with an impenetrable wall of pedestrians, pedestrians confused as to why your spandex-clad self could possibly want to be jogging. Anywhere you run, the men drinking Andes outside kioskos will mutter inappropriate things at you. And the acequias are a constant danger, especially if the said jogger is distracted by a wine hangover from the night before.
But Mendoza is also blessed with sunny days and wide streets and plaza after plaza. There is a strong running communityand with a little planning the city can be a runner’s paradise:
Parque San Martin: This one is almost too obvious to include, but the green behemoth lurking to the city’s west has enough to keep even the highest mileage folk busy. To the left of the gates you´ll find the lake. This 2.5 km loop is constantly full of other joggers. It´s great for ogling beautiful Argentine athletes and admiring the mountains reflected in the water. There are frequently rollerbladers weaving their way through cone obstacle courses and couples making out in not-so-secluded corners. Those seeking more challenge and more solitude should continue straight up from the gates, heading up the hill for as long as possible before turning off onto one of the shaded side roads to return. (If heading up into the further reaches of the park, running with a buddy is encouraged.)
Parque Central: This park is slightly off the beaten path, but offers a similar experience to San Martin’s lake. The 1.4km loop is empty in the morning, but in the evening it fills with picnickers and nappers. Sometimes you’ll see young people doing aerial gymnastics hanging off the bridge, or run into a drum practice by the park’s northern edge. For some variety you can pass the Nave Cultural to cross San Martin and head toward the Beltran Area Fundacional. This plaza is one of Mendoza’s best landscaped and most tropical. Extra points for following calle J.L. Beltran to the end to see the ruins preserved from the earthquake of 1861. You can pretend to be utterly absorbed in the history of the place while really catching your breath.
Siesta Running: During siesta the city’s main arteries are almost eerily quiet. Run the tree lined Alameda and count the number of pancho shops per block. Continue on San Martin and marvel at the height of this season’s platform shoes. Run up Sarmiento and compare the prices for two medialunas and a café con leche at each of the tourist restaurants you pass. This is a good time too to take detours through the ritzy residential neighborhoods near the park. A left or right off Emilio Civit will plunge you into streets of elegant homes and well-washed side walks.
By Molly MacVeag