Asia Pacific

Beijing, China

Beijing, China, is one of the world’s largest cities, with a population of more than 20 million. It is the second largest city in China after Shanghai, and is the country’s political, educational, cultural, and business capital. Beijing is divided into 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Running in Beijing can be a challenge. The city is densely crowded and there is a lot of traffic. Air quality is another issue. The city experiences a good amount of pollution and smog, and there are some days where is unhealthy or even dangerous to run. If the air quality index (AQI) is more than 150–200 (depending on your sensitivity), consider the hotel gym as an alternative.

The best places to run in Beijing are in some of its lovely parks. Several of them, such as Olympic Park, Purple Bamboo Park, and Chaoyang (Sun) Park, have well-marked, well maintained running paths or tracks. Running in the area around the Olympic sites is very popular. We’ve also put together a ‘running tour’ of some of Beijing’s more important sites in the area around the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. One of the best places for a long run is Shunyi Xincheng Binhe Forest Park & Jianhe Park, in the Shunyi District.

Beijing has an extensive public transportation system, consisting of buses and inexpensive subways, with English language signage. Runners should note Beijing’s climate: cold winters and hot, humid summers.

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beijing-climate-graphBeijing has a humid continental climate. Summers are hot and humid, with highs averaging 30C (mid-80s). Nights stay warm and muggy. Winters are fairly severe. Average January highs are just above freezing, and lows in the teens. Most of Beijing’s precipitation occurs in spring and summer downpours. Winters, though cold, are quite dry. There is snow but not big storms. Ice and footing is an issue in winter months.

Beijing is a densely populated and heavily visited city, and there is a broad selection of centrally located hotels. There is a good cluster of hotels in central Beijing, to the east of Tianamen Square and the Palace Museum. Though busy, there is good running in this area, including some ‘run touring’ opportunities if you go at off hours. There are also lots of hotels near Purple Bamboo and Yuyuantan (Jade Lake) Park, just east of Third Ring Road.

Predictably, there are many hotels in the Olympic Park area, which is a good area for running. Also, there is a good selection of hotels just to the east and south of YuanMingyuan Park and the Summer Palace, and also near the University for good running.

Beijing is well served by running stores of the main shoe and sports apparel companies such as Nike, New Balance, Puma, Asics, and Reebok. They are centrally located and in major shopping areas. Anta is a popular Chinese chain with several stores in Beijing. There are several running stores just east of the Palace.

Group running is not as prevalent in Beijing as some other major cities but the scene is growing. Some organizations open to visitors who want to join a group run:

Breakfast Running Group. Most of their training is in ChaoYang Park,. Wednesday mornings 6.30am and Saturday mornings 8.30am, at gate 3 in the north west of the park (south of Solana). On Saturdays they often go for breakfast together after the run.

HeyRunning is Beijing’s largest organization organizing running groups, training sessions, and coaching. They do several group running/training events per week, with a varying calendar. They also have aerobics and yoga classes all over the city. Free 5k the last weekend of every month in Chaoyang Park at West Gate 3.

Hash House Harriers Beijing. The Beijing chapter of HHH has beer-centric runs Sunday afternoons. Their HQ bar is Paddy O’Sheas on Dongzhemenwei Dajie across from the Canadian Embassy.

There is a growing number of running events in Beijing and in China.

Good China event calendar.

Beijing Hyandai Marathon and Half Marathon. September. Starts in Tianamen Square.

Great Wall of China Marathon. Very popular event. Run in October and May. Multiple distance options. Starts just outside of central Beijing.