Run My City: St. Louis
A history of running continues in the Gateway to the West.
St. Louis is a bustling, artsy, Midwestern city—with a lively running community. Runners enjoy the historic architecture and tree-lined streets (particularly scenic in the fall), and green spaces like Forest Park, with its free museums and zoo adding to the community vibe.
Heck, there’s even a statue of a runner in Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis, donated by an athlete who competed in the 1904 Olympics (hosted by St. Louis). A company called St. Louis Running Tours starts and finishes runs at the statue five days a week, touring the historic city on foot.
Popular races like the locally run St. Louis Marathon and St. Louis Half Marathon draw competitors from around the country. Growing running clubs, a history of producing Olympic Trials qualifiers and national elitehigh school and college athletes, and a continually increasing number of pedestrian- and bike-friendly paths add to St. Louis’ running environment.
GO! St. Louis Marathon. In addition to the marathon, a marathon relay, children’s fun runs, “Mature Mile,” (open to runners/walkers 60 and over) and more take place over a weekend in April each year.
St. Louis Half Marathon. Hosted by the St. Louis Track Club every November, this popular event benefits the Special Olympics and includes a 5K and a Half-Mile run for ages 10 and under.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run. March of 2016 marks the 38th annual St. Patty’s Day Parade Run, drawing 8,000 people to its five-mile course along downtown and midtown St. Louis.
Macklind Mile. This downhill (fast!) mile race is held at the end of each June and sends racers off in five waves. It’s put on by local specialty running retailer, the Big River Running Company.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Born in East St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, the six-time Olympic medalist (and thee-time gold medalist) Kersee remains active in the St. Louis community and runs her JJK Foundation in East St. Louis.
Mike Rodgers. Sprinter Mike Rodgers attended Berkeley High School in St. Louis, and was 5th in the 100-meters at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.
Colleen Quigley. Steeplechaser Quigley grew up in St. Louis and ran for Nerinx Hall High School before running (and becoming an NCAA champ) for Florida State. She now competes internationally. Her father, Gaylerd Quigley, is a very active distance track and cross-country coach in St. Louis.
St. Louis Track Club. Established in 1970, this is the longest standing club in the area, offering multiple group runs per week and many events, including the St. Louis Half Marathon. The club also hosts the Frost Bite Series, offering runners bi-monthly races of various distances from December through February.
Belleville Running Club. Technically based in Belleville, Illinois, (across the river in what is referred to as the “Metro Eastside”), this club hosts group runs and races in the St. Louis area.
Happy’s Running Club. This national chain of clubs, with the motto of “Run, Drink, Be Happy,” hosts group runs that meet at a bar on Tuesday nights. Members range from competitive runners to casual.
The Slugs. The name stands for the “St. Louis Ultrarunners Group,” and the club hosts five races with distances between 20K and 100 miles each year.
Fleet Feet St. Louis. This franchised, national chain is owned by a local couple and has six locations in the area.
Big River Running Company. With four stores in the area, these shops host group runs, races, and have a racing team.
The Running Center. This family-run shop has been a St. Louis staple since 1983. Its one location is in Rock Hill.
Schlafly. The oldest and largest microbrewery in St. Louis, Schlafly serves beer and bar food. The St. Louis Track Club starts and finishes its group runs from one of Schlafly’s two locations.
Rooster. Known as the best breakfast in town, particularly for its crepes, Rooster is a popular post-morning run spot.
Benton Park Café. This café is open at runner-friendly hours, great for a postrun breakfast or lunch food (or even a late-night snack on the weekends).
Forest Park. This 1,300-acre park is the gem of the city, with both crushed gravel and paved paths throughout. Running the 5.6-miles around the park is a classic St. Louis route.
Great Rivers Greenway. This organization has created, and continues to expand, trails, paved paths, and rail-to-trails routes connecting all over the city.
Jefferson Barracks. Rich in military history, this park serves as a popular running spot and hosts high school cross country meets.
Castlewood State Park. This scenic park with the Meramec River running through it offers interconnected trails and a loop around it.
Queeny Park. Located in the western neighborhood of St. Louis, this park has a mix of paved and gravel paths among dense trees. Runners enjoy the four-mile route around the park, or link up to trails within.
Special thanks to virtual tour guide and St. Louis locals, Joe Michaelree of St. Louis Running Tour and Jen Mommens of the St. Louis Track Club.