Friday, November 27, 2015

Running in Riyadh: Al Muruj Park (Double Tree)

No, I didn't find the equivalent of Central Park or the Golden Gate Park in Riyadh, but just a little green patch. As a matter of fact, I didn't even find it on my own: a local colleague, whom I was telling about my struggle of running on a treadmill as you could read in my previous post, indicated this small park just behind my hotel, the Double Tree. By the way, I highly recommend this hotel, very nice personnel, nice rooms with very modern equipment, excellent breakfast buffet, 24x7 gym. And you know you are there when you smell the chocolate chips cookies! ;-)

After 4 nights of feeling like running in a hamster wheel inside, I was delighted to run outside around this park. Its circumference is almost equivalent to a track at 0.23 mile. With that, it took me 60 laps to do 13.8 miles, yet it felt so much better and pleasant than the same distance on a treadmill.

The park has a few users from kids and their mothers at the playground during the day to groups of men gathering at night to chat. But the real inhabitants of the park are feral cats, by the dozens. It's not legal to have pets inside, at home, so people stop by to feed these cats.

The park is bordered by a rectangular and wide sidewalk, lit by a few street lights which make running at night easy (again, that's important because, with 11 hours of time difference with California in Winter, jet lag is a real issue and an evening long run may actually help you falling asleep more easily afterwards).

Again, nothing comparable to a real urban park, but enough to breathe some air and a safe place to run right behind that hotel without having to cross streets and fight against the dangerous traffic. Finally, a way to escape the dreary treadmill, phew...!

PS: I was in Riyadh during the weekend of the tragic and deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. It felt really odd to be in such a well established and accepted Islamic State, ruling with force and terror as well and, yet, getting associated to the pain felt in France with the coloring of the Kingdom Tower... A very ambiguous position for Saudi Arabia between conflicting political interests on all geographic, economic, ideology and religious fronts...

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