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Running in and around Thailand

WHERE TO RUN IN BANGKOK?

A tough question. There are three major parks in Bangkok suitable for the visiting runner. Lumpini Park, the best known and most centrally situated, very convenient for those staying in hotels on Sathorn, Silom and Ratchadamri. The circuit in Lumpini is 2.5 km long and is quite well shaded by trees, but the real attraction is early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday, when the park is crowded with people of all ages: running, jogging, walking, playing badminton, dancing, doing tai chai and many other forms of martial arts, and of course eating and drinking. A fabulous site guaranteed to take your mind off the running. The park opens at 4:30 a.m. and activity peaks between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. Early evening is equally suitable for running, but not quite so entertaining. Several running clubs have their homes in Lumpini Park (Suan Lum in Thai).

Then there is Chatujak Park (otherwise known as Railway Park) out behind the weekend market near the northern bus terminal. A much larger park but not quite so convenient, and not quite so well protected by trees. There is also a running track here, slightly longer than at Lumpini, which is home to several more running clubs. The park is in the process of being enlarged as the adjacent public golf course is being turned back into parkland.

The other major and accessible park is the Rama IX Park which is out towards Bang Na on Sukha Pibhan 1 Road not far from Sri Nakarin Road. This is a large and very attractive, very well kept park.  In the centre is a museum dedicated to the current King, a fascinating tribute to an exceptional man. Several running clubs train here and many races start and end in Rama IX park, although they always seem to go out into the rather unpleasant traffic in between. Not so easy to run here due to the number of children on bicycles and crowds of strollers, but well worth a visit - not many foreigners. In Thai this park is called Suan Luang Lor Khao.

There are other parks in Bangkok, such as the small Sanam Luang, near the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the very beautiful Buddhamonthon Park way out to the west on the  Ratchawithi - Nakorn Chaisi Road past Taling Chan, but neither is especially suitable or convenient for the visiting runner.

Several of the bigger and better Bangkok hotels have running facilities, most notably the Grand Hyatt Erawan - an exceptionally ugly lump of concrete on Ratchadamri Road.

If you are lucky enough to obtain visiting rights to the Royal Bangkok Sports Club (RBSC) they have two running tracks, one at the Polo Club with a beautifully surfaced track of just over 500 metres and another at the Sports Club on Henri Dunant Road, which is much longer, circumnavigating the golf course, but it is grassed and rough, and of course the golfers get priority, so watch out.

It should not be necessary to say that running on the street in Bangkok is not a good idea. The traffic, pollution and crowds combined with the heat, make it an unpleasant and dangerous pastime

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