Hills, mills and thrills: a city run in Glasgow

I’ve been running in Glasgow for years, and it never ceases to amaze me the number of green routes and verdant spaces that there are to choose from in such a densely urbanised post-industrial city.

With a couple of young kids at home, I have to sneak out early mornings to get my running fix in short bursts these days – a precious bit of balance-restoring me-time. In summer, I pick up the walkway that skirts the River Kelvin, and if I’m lucky and it’s not raining – and it’s almost always raining – enjoy the first golden rays of sunlight as they split the leafy canopy overhead. In the depths of winter, I pound the same route, bare trees eerily illuminated by my head torch, sometimes in driving sleet and wind. There’s no use to being a fairweather runner in Glasgow.

From the much transformed banks of the River Clyde through the city centre, to the parks of the south side, past cultural icons of the East End and along the canal towpaths which lead far beyond the city limits, here are a few of Glasgow’s urban peaks awaiting to be scaled. I run them in my New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v5 trail shoes, which are perfectly suited for the city’s often unpredictable mixture of flat and hilly terrain, and pavement and soft-trail surfaces.

A loop of the West End
I’m lucky to have access to the Kelvin walkway practically right on my doorstep – a wedge of greenery flanking a tarmac footpath that cuts through Glasgow’s West End by the rain-swollen river’s edge, beneath the span of historic stone and iron bridges, past old ruined mills and railway arches. The narrow route downstream eventually widens out into leafy Kelvingrove Park, which I take a loop around – past the red sandstone exterior and bristling spires of the famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, with the Glasgow University tower emerging through the morning haze on the hillside behind.

From there I cut up through the streets of the West End between blonde tenements, past the first bleary-eyed, coffee-clutching commuters before taking a swing through the lush Botanic Gardens, then dipping back down into the Kelvin walkway where it guides me home. Taking a quickfire tour of my neighbourhood at dawn’s light while it’s quiet, private and still is a pleasure I’ll never take for granted.

The Kelvin Way Bridge takes you over the River Kelvin in leafy Kelvingrove Park.

New Balance campaign for Glabs - Malcolm Jack in Glasgow

Jack’s New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v5s.

  • Kelvingrove Park on Jack’s West End run, the SEC Armadillo on Jack’s River Clyde route, and his New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v5s

Glasgow through the ages along the River Clyde
There’s no running route more emblematic of the dramatically changed face of post-industrial Glasgow than the one which follows the river that was once the city’s gateway to the world. The mighty Clyde shipyards and docks are almost all long gone; replaced by new industries such as the Pacific Quay media precinct, and works of bold modernist architecture such as the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum. Head eastwards along the wide shared-use pathway that tracks the route of the river and you’ll glide right through the heart of Glasgow in no time, taking in all from the SEC Armadillo and Hydro entertainment arenas, the famous Finnieston Crane (one of the last relics of Glasgow’s shipbuilding past), various bridges including the curving Clyde Arc, or the “Squinty Bridge” as its more popularly known, through the financial district along the Broomielaw all the way east to Glasgow Green.

The Green, the Barras and the Big Yin
The oldest park in the city, Glasgow Green might as well have been designed with runners in mind – it’s big, flat, crisscrossed with wide pathways and studded with eye-popping landmarks, including the People’s Palace Museum and the absurdly spectacular Templeton on the Green, originally the Templeton carpet factory, with its facade inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

You can fit in a full 5K route starting at the McLennan Arch then following the park perimeter, which along its southern edge borders the River Clyde – watch out for rowers from nearby clubs cutting past. Work your way through the East End – including Calton, the Barras market, Gallowgate and Merchant City – and you can wind past cultural icons including the legendary Barrowlands Ballroom concert venue, with its garish flashing illuminated signage lit-up bright and loud on show nights, and a series of huge painted murals – including two depicting Glasgow’s best-loved comedian, Billy “the Big Yin” Connolly.

Jack regularly runs a 5K route from the McLennan Arch, around Glasgow Green and up to Merchant City

Speirs Wharf

New Balance campaign for Glabs - Malcolm Jack in Glasgow

Park hopping on the south side
The name Glasgow means “dear green place” in Scots Gaelic, and it’s not hard to see why when you consider how many parks the city has, all of which practically explode with greenery come springtime – the one upside of all that rain. You can hop across three of them on the south side in one run if you’ve got the energy and know your way about – and really put the New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v5s to the test across a mixture of different terrain (the extra traction from the shoe’s elongated heel particularly pays on hill climbs and descents).

Start at Queen’s Park with a spin around the duck pond and a huff up the hill to admire panoramic skyline views from the flag pole, then shoot north-westwards through Strathbungo for a sharp turn through Maxwell Park, before bounding down into the big one – Pollok Country Park. A 146-hectare (361-acre) taste of the countryside in the city, where you can take a hilly run among wild woods and fields. Or through the stately grounds of Pollok House, around the Burrell Collection art gallery, and past Scotland’s only herd of urban highland cows. The choice is endless – just try not to get lost.

The Forth and Clyde canal … and beyond
Back in the days when I had the opportunity to be a bit more adventurous with my running, I used to enjoy taking a route upstream along the River Kelvin until the point it crosses over with the Forth and Clyde canal – the 18th-century waterway which joins up the Scottish lowlands from coast to coast. From there the gravel towpath offers practically infinite choice for distance running. Go west and after about 11 miles (18km) the canal eventually meets the Clyde at Bowling (where there’s a train station if you fancy a lazier trip back into town). Go east and you’ve got the option of either following the short spur that runs down to Speirs Wharf in the city centre – or the long one that eventually runs all the way to Edinburgh. Or at least as far as your legs will carry you.

The Fresh Foam X Hierro v5 is designed to go the distance. Engineered with a plush Fresh Foam X midsole, a Vibram® MegaGrip outsole for traction and an upper that’s refined for improved breathability and protection, this men’s trail shoe will push you to reimagine your boundaries. Available now on


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