The second-largest city in Texas is growing with endurance athletes in mind.
Best known for its burgeoning food and drink scene and historic Texas flair, San Antonio also touts a healthy and growing running community. While often overshadowed by the active ethos of Austin, which sits 75 miles northeast, the Alamo City has seen an influx of endurance-minded athletes who are helping to shape the growing running reputation.
“In the past five years it seems the running population has exploded in San Antonio,” said Julie Olsen, a coach for Soler’s Fit/USA Fit San Antonio. “There are races every weekend, social runs scheduled by many groups about every day of the week, and several training programs now available.”
With the existing and growing infrastructure of Alamo City, it is no wonder the city is becoming an enclave for runners. Marked by charming neighborhoods with Victorian mansions, quirky bungalows, and countless historical sites, as well as meandering river trails, it appeals to harriers of every stripe. What’s more, San Antonio has made it a priority to continue expanding the local park system of both paved and off-road trails to accommodate the hoards of runners, clubs and teams that take to the trail each day.
“There is definitely no shortage of options for short or long runs in the area, nor groups to run with,” adds Olsen.
With so many opportunities for good running, along with the limitless options of local cuisine, it is no surprise that runners have begun to flock to the second-largest city in Texas. To be sure, the city’s world famous margaritas, tacos, and tamales are best enjoyed after a brisk jaunt on foot around the city.
Where to Run
With 15 total miles of paved trail to navigate, the River Walk will take you past everything from the Alamo to the quaint King William Historic District to the San Antonio Museum of Art. To add on more run time, the 9-mile Mission Reach Trail serves as an extension of the River Walk, following the San Antonio River. Part of an ecosystem restoration project, this stretch features riparian woodlands and natural aquatic habitats. If you’re looking to do a workout, check out the Leon Creek Greenway, which is outfitted with quarter-mile markers, water and rest stops every few miles. Boasting 13.5 miles of paved multi-use trails and countless off-road routes, there’s something for every runner. With the help of the San Antonio Road Runners, McAllister Park on the north side of town offers paved running trails, along with more than 10 miles of undeveloped paths perfect for trail and cross-country runners.
Where to Race
Nearby New Braunfels hosts the Chosen Marathon (Oct. 25; chosenmarathon.com), which takes runners along the Guadalupe River, making you forget how close you are to the big city. While there are plenty of one-off races around San Antonio, there are several event series that have gained a healthy following. Huarache Turbo Race Series (huaracheturbo.com) offers handmade awards, cash prizes and costume contests. From the Be My Valentine Run (February 2015) to a Dia de los Muertes Night Run (Nov. 1), these events and more will keep you busy all year long. Similarly, the CarreraThon Gusto Series (carrerathon.com) offers 5K and 10K events, as well as 10-mile and 20-mile races at the Gusto Push (Nov. 13). For more distance, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon (Dec. 6; runrocknroll.com) is known for its flat and festive course with perfect conditions for a big PR. Nearby If you’d rather tackle a race as part of a team, consider rounding up a group of comrades for the Carrabbas Half Marathon Relay (June 2015), put on by the San Antonio Road Runners in McAllister Park.
Where to Eat and Drink
With many running groups meeting in the Southtown area, this is a great neighborhood to check out San Antonio’s restaurant scene. La Tuna Bar (100 Probandt St.; latunagrill.com) is known for its loaded fries topped with sour cream, cheese and, of course, bacon, perfect for a post-long run snack. For something equally delectable, the woodfired pizza and craft beer from Stella Public House (1414 Alamo St.; stellapublichouse.com) is a great way to finish any run. If you’re in need of a thirst-quencher, check out Blue Star Brewing’s(1414 Alamo St.; bluestarbrewing.com) Texican Lager. For a mouth-watering, meat-forward meal, head over to the Pearl District for slow-smoked beef brisket and deep friend grits at The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (602 Avenue A; thegranarysa.com). Of course one can’t visit San Antonio without experiencing their famous Tex-Mex fare, which is a highlight at Mi Tierra Café y Panaderia (218 Produce Row; mitierracafe.com) in the Market Square neighborhood. Serving massive portions 24 hours a day, this family-run San Antonio institution offers a unique experience for tourists.
San Antonio’s summers send most runners out for their workouts at sunrise to beat the heat. Just 140 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, semitropical warm and muggy air often descends on the city. As winter approaches, however, mercury readings are moderate and can sometimes even dip below freezing. While it is typically coolest in January, much of the fall and winter provides nearly ideal running weather. One of the most flood-prone regions in North America, be sure to have a back-up plan for your route after a big rain, if you’re a trail runner in particular.
Where to Shop
Many of the local running shops in San Antonio not only peddle shoes, but they also host group runs, coach local athletes and put on events around the city. Soler’s Sports (multiple locations; solerssports.com) has four locations in the city, where they train around 400 runners a year for marathons and half marathons. Don’t forget to ask about their Sunday social runs that feature multiple distances and post-run treats. We Run San Antonio (23127 IH10 West; werunsanantonio.com) and iRun Texas (20079 Stone Oak Pkwy; iruntexas.net) also host regular training groups, as well as offer custom shoe fitting through gait analysis and an injury history intake. For fitness fanatics, Run Wild Sports (1900 Broadway; runwildsportssa.com) near downtown places an emphasis on servicing runners, walkers, yogis, and everyone in between. With a wide selection of shoes, from minimalist to motion control, they have something for everyone.
Did You Know?
The Alamo: The site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, this former Roman Catholic mission is the city’s top tourist attraction.
River Walk: One of the most popular sections of town, the River Walk follows the San Antonio River and is known for its shopping and restaurant scene.
SeaWorld: This famous marine mammal park and theme park attracts tourists in droves to the Westover Hills District of San Antonio.