Running in Riga

IMG_0133Naturally, one of my first orders of business upon arriving in Latvia was to figure out where I can run. To my delight, there is no shortage of running paths in Riga, and even more exciting is that Riga has quite a large running community. I had been a bit worried that a woman running, often alone, and sometimes with a dog, might be a strange sight here, but it is not. I am surrounded by runners everywhere I go, and M. and I have already found quite a few trails during our first week here. They have provided the perfect avenue (literally!) for exploring the city on foot.

Our hotel is situated on the west bank of the Daugava River with easy access to running trails on either side of the river and to the bridges that connect them. The Daugava River Trails (my unofficial name for them) offer gorgeous views of Riga, from different angles and perspectives. Frieda loves them, too!

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This little path goes around a small river peninsula with the Vanšu Bridge in the distance. It is across the street from our hotel. One loop around it is just about a mile. In the mornings, it is deserted and we have been able to get Frieda a few off-leash sprints.

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Here, a view of the Presidential Palace on the opposite side of the river, and the Latvian flag (red and white) and Riga Coat of Arms (blue and white) blowing in the wind. Riga may rival Chicago as a windy city!

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This gigantic cruise ship, the Costa Pacifica, was docked here on the Daugava River all day and night yesterday while its passengers explored Riga.

Last weekend, we found a great loop from our hotel on the west bank of the Daugava River and heading south for a while, crossing the river back to the east side, and heading north again, eventually crossing back over to the west side of the river. In total, it was about five miles.

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There are great pedestrian and bike paths on each side of the Daugava River. This one is on the west side (facing north).

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View of Old Riga from the west bank of the Daugava river as I headed south on the running path.

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Another view of Old Riga from the west bank of the Daugava River, this one about two miles downstream from our hotel.

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This is one of the pedestrian/bike bridges under the road crossing the Daugava River. There aren’t many people around this far south, but I felt safe, especially with my guard doggie.

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Beautiful Riga! I took this photo from the middle of the pedestrian bridge pictured above.

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This path on the east side of the Daugava River is a bit nicer and generally sees more traffic (though you wouldn’t guess that from this photo!).

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Frieda ponders the meaning of life as she looks out at the water with the Railway Bridge and National Library in the distance.

In addition to views of churches and towers, there are many notable statues, unique buildings, and works of art to see on the run in Riga.

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This statue is a monument to the 1905 Bloody Sunday, when 70 Latvians were killed and more than 200 injured during a peaceful protest and strike against the Russo-Japanese War. The sun was in an awkward spot when I took the photo, making it a bit darker than I would like.

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Crossing over the Daugava River again, the newly-built National Library provides an unmistakable landmark along the east side of the river.

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Latvia’s National Library, up close, with a patch of red and white tulips in full bloom in front of it.

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Here, a huge painted Easter egg sits along the running path opposite our hotel. It was a gift to Latvia from Croatia in 2014.

Besides those along the Daugava River, there are running and bike paths throughout the west side of the city. Near our hotel, they connect to a huge park and provide an easy way to run to the small river island of Kīpsala, where we will eventually be living.

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Frieda leads the way to Kīpsala.

Here, the cable-stayed Vanšu Bridge connects Kīpsala and Old Riga in front of the Presidential Palace, where, in just a few days, the street will be filled with thousands of runners- including yours truly- for the Riga Marathon.

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The sky changes from sunny to stormy within minutes! I have noticed that it gets pretty windy on this bridge. I’ll have to cross it four times during Sunday’s marathon.

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The street in front of the Presidential Palace, empty now, will be packed with runners in just a few more days.

As is usual for me in the days leading up to a marathon, I am feeling woefully underprepared… typically that’s not much more than a feeling of pre-race jitters and lack of confidence, but in this case, I actually am undertrained, thanks to my knee and leg challenges earlier this winter. In fact, my entire training cycle has felt more like a taper, with a couple of long runs and a lot of unnecessary carbohydrates sprinkled in. My hamstrings are a bit tight and there is a little hot spot on the medial side of my left patella, but as long as things stay loose and comfortable, all should be well. I have no grand expectations or goals for Sunday, other than simply to enjoy the day in spite of the predicted rain. And with views like these to take in, race day will at the very least be a beautiful sightseeing tour of my new home city on foot.

Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “Running in Riga

  1. Have a great time in your first Latvian marathon! Hope it won’t be too Riga-rous. Loose and comfortable, that sounds ideal. How do you you say something like “Vsichko hubavo” in your new language? I wish you that, all the best!

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  2. LABDIEN! 🙂 I am loving all your updates and pictures! Impressive that you picked right up with blogging so soon after getting there. I’m happy to see that you are using the running path next to the river, and relieved that there is a large running community (I wasn’t exactly sure). Good luck in the marathon this weekend!

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