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Central City Hill Sprints

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Contributor:
Phil Stewart
Phil Stewart

Do you sometimes question the motives of people who choose to run through the central city rather than in the ‘burbs or around the park? Why would choose to run through an area crowded by people and traffic? I don’t know, but on Easter Monday I decided to try some hill-sprints right in the middle of Auckland city.

I love hill-sprints, and so created a running circuit to include the 7 steepest streets of Auckland CBD. It’s not often that you’re running through the middle of town – so why not make the most of it.
 
The thing was, I thought town would be quiet because of the public holiday. But things turned out to be busier – and much more dangerous – than I expected…

I invited a good friend of mine Woo along. Woo teaches Power classes (like a Pump class only different) at my gym, City Fitness in Newmarket. I have recently been to a couple of her demanding Power classes, so I thought I’d return the favour and invite her along for a few demanding hill-sprints. What are friends for.
 
We began in the morning, and as hoped, there were few people around and not much traffic. Perfect hill-sprinting conditions.

 Queen Street

Street 1: Queen St (the top end). A nice not-too-steep start to the day and not many pedestrians to dodge.

City Road
 
Street 2: City Rd. By far the steepest street in the CBD, and actually one of the entire city’s steepest street. Thankfully it’s relatively short. Don’t try running down this – it’s not that good for your knees. And your legs might be jelly if you’ve just run up.

Street 2: City Rd. Woo half-way up City Rd. Ouch!

Street 3: Wakefield St. I actually hit the wall a little half-way up this one. It was quite long and sneaky-steep. I needed a rest at the top. I weigh twice as much as Woo – so my excuse is all the extra weight…

In-between climbs allowed for some nice jogs through the city. We didn't hold traffic up much.

This incline gave us a nice view across the downtown area of the city. This was about an hour into our run, and there was now much more traffic about. The combination of tired legs and having to continuously cross busy streets (we weren’t waiting for the green man) can be a little dangerous. Onwards and upwards (but watch for traffic).

Street 5: Chancery St & Kitchener St. Right in the heart of the city. This is the second-steepest section of the day. You won’t find many runners in this part of town but what’s to lose? Nice views of downtown buildings make a change from running round the usual sights of the Domain.

Street 5: Chancery St & Kitchener St. Drive with the arms, see?

I needed a little rest at the end of that bit.

That's the city's tallest building (is it?) I think so. Not counting Sky Tower.

Street 6: Shortland St. Woo at the start of this incline, which appeared easy at first. However, we were into our second hour of running and by the time we reached half-way up things got a bit serious. Very dangerous blind intersections at the top of this street – for both motorists and pedestrians crossing the road. Be careful on this bit.

Crusing along Queen St. By now, the city was very busy and we were focused simply on avoiding a nasty collision with pedestrians.

Street 7: Nelson St. Safely to the end. And a nice incline to finish with to take us back to Sky Tower.

Street 7: Nelson St. That's enough for today.

What is great about the central city are the variety of streets available to run up. Of all different inclines and all different lengths. Plus, the scenery is always interesting. As a workout this event provided a great test and gave us the opportunity to run on streets that we had never run on before and would likely never run on again.
Who knows what people thought of us running right through town up and down the steepest streets? Did anyone even notice? Or care? I don't know. What I do know is that the central city is not the ideal place to run. Dodging traffic and breathing in vehicle fumes gets a little tiring. And can be dangerous. Dodging pedestrians, however, is actually kinda fun.

Run hard and watch for traffic, Phil.

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