Run de Wereld: Running in Amsterdam!

sauc-3Whether traveling for business or pleasure, Vondelpark to the Olympisch Stadion in Amsterdam is an incredible route you’re sure to fall in love with on foot. It’s short enough in distance that you can walk it, and capable of being looped or added to, to create a nice middle-distance run. As Amsterdam is so compact, it’s likely you can access this route and one of the park’s several entrances from your hotel, Airbnb or VRBO.

In September 2016, two friends and I traveled to Europe, with Amsterdam as our first stop. Staying in the Oud-West area, we were able to access the park from our Airbnb, passing braided trees arching over cobbled streets, street vendors selling produce, and incredibly aromatic cafes.

What other treasures might you find on a run if you find yourself in this area of Amsterdam? Read on!

Vondelpark is south of Leidseplein, the city center, and less than 1 km away from Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Aged at over 150 years old, and near 120 acres in size, it is full of old plane trees, horse chestnuts, catalpas, birch, herbs, gardens, wild ducks and blue herons. There’s an open-air theatre, a bandstand, a statue of the poet Vondel, a bronze cast of a Caribbean woman called “Mama Baranka,” and an abstract concrete “Fish” by Pablo Picasso, made in 1965.

Tourists and locals alike head to Vondelpark to walk their dogs, jog, run, roller-skate, people-watch or laze about on the grass. Unfortunately, the park was constructed on a muddy expanse of land and has to go through total renovation every 30 years.

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Vondelpark has many entrances and hosts an outermost path loop of 3.2 km; there are other trails within that cut across the park, in the case that you want to add more distance. The three of us looped the park a few times, taking in the rollerbladers, dog walkers, picnics and peekaboo views of gorgeous mansions between the plane trees, before venturing out from the west end to access Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium.

To get from Vondelpark to Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium from the west end of the park, you’ll take Amstelveenseweg, heading south through a roundabout, before turning west (right) onto Stadionplein/s108. Shortly thereafter, you’ll take a right onto Laan der Hesperiden to reach the stadium’s main entrance.

Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium (Dutch: Olympisch Stadion), built for the 1928 Games and in the Old-South neighborhood, is a wonderful add-on from Vondelpark. As the city is compact, nearly all “iconic” runs are easy to reach and centrally located.

15In 1987 the city government announced plans to demolish the stadium. It escaped this fate in being awarded the status of a national monument. Renovation started in 1996, and the stadium was refurbished into the original construction of 1928. In 2000 the stadium was “festively re-opened,” and is used for youth track and field meets.

Once we arrived at the Olympisch Stadion, a youth track and field meet was taking place, and we were able to step inside and watch children competing in the long jump. If you find yourself in the area on the 2nd Friday of the month, the athletics association, Athletics Phanos, hosts a “Free Friday Night Run,” at 7:30 pm from the Olympic Stadium. Taking part in it would be a really awesome way to get to know people in the community, and to feel the grandeur that emanates from the stadium.

From our Airbnb, through Vondelpark to the Olympisch Stadion and back, we had 8 miles on the books for the day. To experience the lush park with its buzz of inhabitants, to stand upon the oval that hosted the feet of Paavo Nurmi and Percy Williams, and to be reminded of the fact that women’s track and field debuted there, was a pleasure I will never take for granted.

Have you ever run in Amsterdam? Where’s your favorite vacation running route?

Spikenard is a writer, film librarian, wine P.O.S. artist, Saucony Hurricane and co-founder of Bellingham Distance Project, a post-collegiate competitive women's running team in Bellingham, WA. Outside of drinking copious amounts of wine, she nourishes herself in literature and thrifting. Most of her writing centers on relationships, food and travel. She is training for an eventual Beer Mile and the 2020 Olympic Trials in the Marathon.

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