On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Friday, December 10, 2010

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised

I told you I would and I did: I ran yesterday.  And it was amazing.  In fact, I just might do it again today and tomorrow, it was so nice.

The part of Manhattan where I run (just south of the George Washington Bridge along the Hudson River) is lovely.  Because my schedule has some flexibility, I tend not to run during times of day when it's crowded with commuters or other exercisers, so it's a very peaceful and serene place to run.

My running path yesterday afternoon.
Inviting, don't you think?
Except for one thing: Rats.  Literal rats.

Usually this is no big deal.  It's hard to tell a scurrying squirrel apart from a rat in the bushes.  However, there is one thing that sets the squirrels apart from the rats, and that is that rats are evidently stupid.  I'm basing that on the sheer number of rats I see looking something like this:

If you think this rat is gross, you should see the ones
in the subway.
Squirrels know how to cross the path.  Squirrels instinctively avoid people.  Rats, they'll cross in front of you.  And - worse for them - they don't seem to get that bike wheels will kill them.

There are fewer of them, now that the weather has turned cold (and also now that there are fewer bikes out on the path - which reminds me: cyclists, seriously? Man up. Get some cold weather gear, a balaclava, some good gloves, and keep on riding).  During the summer, I'm not sure there was a single run wherein I didn't see at least one dead rat.  To the credit of the park service, often the dead rats I see when I head out on my run are gone by the time I head back.  I think they have a group of employees whose sole job it must be to pick up dead rats.

Pretty gross, no?  Still, I'd take a rat any day over a roach.


  1. Oh. My. Goodness. It's not that rats bother me (I had friends in high school who has pet rats, so me and the rats are cool), but a path with mass carnage of any animal is never good.

    And what a New Yorker problem you have there, T :p

  2. GROSS! That's disgusting! Title of the post should have been 'Don't read this if you're afraid of rats!'.

    So much for my plans of coming to NY any time soon...

  3. that is uber gross.
    not to stalk but now that i live on the uws how far up should i run? or is it entirely good/safe up through the gwb?

  4. Jen, and I'll leave this on your blog too to make sure you get it:
    During daylight hours I feel absolutely perfectly safe along my route, which is 145th-GWB. I've also run up above that and not felt at all in danger, and I sometimes go down from 145th to the UWS and also don't have any concerns. If you'd ever like to plan a slow run up this way, I'm happy to meet you at some point along it so you can experience it first with someone else before deciding whether you feel safe or not.

  5. I use one of the greenway bike paths that have been built in the last decade or so in the Bronx. I'm far enough up that there's not a lot of rat activity, but during one of the heatwaves last summer, a groundhog apparently got into some rodent poison and wandered into the path, laid on his back, and died. Groundhogs are kind of BIG. And he just decomposed there, till you could see a skeleton kind of lying in a grease spot. There's still a weird spot right there on the path to this day. So what I'm trying to say is, I'm really impressed by the upper Manhattan branch of the Parks Dept as opposed to the northeast Bronx branch. Seriously. Gross.