The Berkeley Running Company is proud to see how Runners World has saluted the Bay Area and Wisconsin for having wonderful running communities. Our two stores’ staffs are excited to support our customers with their fitness needs. As one of our group leaders often shares, All Miles Are Good Miles!  

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Runners are lucky. We don’t require special courts or lots of fancy equipment. We can get out, loop around, and log miles in nearly any location on the map. But we appreciate a few things: a temperate climate; abundant routes, tracks, and trails; a vibrant local running and racing scene; and maybe some good company. There are dozens of U.S. cities rich in these qualities (maybe you’re lucky enough to live in one!), and after we collected and analyzed a massive amount of data on the largest metropolises in the country, these 50 stood out.

Methodology: We started with a list of 250 U.S. cities with populations of more than 160,000 that had the highest number of households per capita reporting participation in running within the last 12 months (according to the SimplyMap 2014 census study). Then we gathered data from myriad sources to create five indexes of special importance to runners, ranking the cities in each index from 1 to 150. We then weighted the indexes and tallied up the scores to create the final list. The indexes are shown above—run, parks, climate, food, and safety. Click or tap for more information about each index and to see the top 10 cities in each index.


If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to pack your favorite running shoes, because the city by the bay landed at the top of our chart. Of course, if you left your home with only the flower in your hair and need a fresh pair of kicks, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at one of the nine running stores within city limits. It’s true: San Francisco outranked its rivals in nearly all the running-friendly categories we measured, boasting 16 running clubs and 246 races in 2016. The city’s runners are putting in the work; per data from Strava alone, San Franciscans logged 12,554 runs per week for a total of 64,037 miles in 2015. With its signature fog, cool summers, and rolling terrain, getting out the door is painless. Plus there are landmarks like the Lyon Street Steps and Kezar Stadium, the public track that’s been a fixture in San Francisco running for more than 90 years. And there’s no end of routes to explore. From Lands End Coastal Trail, you can run about three miles to the famous Sutro Baths saltwater pools and more trails at Ocean Beach. End the route with a beer at the Park Chalet in Golden Gate Park. For great views of Alcatraz, run along the Embarcadero from AT&T Park to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. There, visit Hopper’s Hands—created by local ironworker Ken Hopper, who made the sign (and a second plaque with dog paws underneath) to give runners a place to touch before turning around.

“My family has been in San Francisco for five generations, so I’ve always had a strong sense of home, and it’s the perfect place to be a runner,” says Shannon Rowbury, 31, three-time Olympian and two-time world bronze medalist. “Within the city, there are trails most people can access just by walking out their door. I started running in high school for the Sacred Heart Cathedral cross-country and track teams. We ran at Kezar Stadium and different routes around the city. I remember my first practice—a five-miler in Golden Gate Park. Ever since, I’ve loved running there. The two main drags—JFK and Martin Luther King—are amazing. But there are little trails, and I swear, after running there for more than 10 years, I’ll still find new, hidden connector routes. Running there makes you feel like you’re far away and in your own little world, but you’re still in the center of San Francisco.”


This fitness-friendly city has long been a runner’s dream, with 11.5 parks per 10,000 residents and more than 200 miles of trails. If you’re looking for soft surfaces, head to the Military Ridge State Trail for a 40-mile packed dirt path. And if you’re in the mood for some natural beauty, the UW Arboretum will do the trick. A 1,200-acre nature area, it has four miles of paved paths and approximately 20 miles of hilly trails.


Ask 2008 Olympian Magdalena Lewy Boulet where her favorite place to run is—she’ll likely tell you it’s her hometown of Oakland. With the top running city as its neighbor, Oakland has a lot to live up to, and it doesn’t disappoint. Check out Redwood Regional Park for cross-country-esque runs complete with hills and deep forests. One of the area’s oldest running clubs is the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders, founded in 1977. They continue to welcome new runners and host annual potlucks for their members.


The California capital has two great waterways—the American and Sacramento Rivers—that make running an adventure. The Sacramento River Parkway connects to the Two River Trail and the American River Bike Trail. But some might say the best place to break a sweat is the 32-mile Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, which follows the American River to the Folsom Dam with water fountains and restrooms along the way. Every Tuesday, join the Buffalo Chips (one of the oldest groups of the city’s 14 running clubs) for a speed session with up to six miles of varying intervals. And if all that running made you hungry, go to Burgers and Brew for an evening treat.


This city not only has a great brewing tradition, but a running one as well. Get in the Milwaukee Beer Run to merge the two. Don’t feel like a dose of ale? Head over to Lakeshore State Park to get your miles in and run along the peninsula that juts straight out into Lake Michigan.

Written by Alec