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Running in Ghent

Image people running in Ghent

Read this information bomb including everything you wanted to know about running in Ghent and more. Get tips for where to run, clubs to join, social media accounts to follow, where to buy running gear and which events to train for.

Why is Gent a nice city to run in?

Karen Van Audenhaege is an avid runner herself and co founder and trainer of the new running club Gent Running Team. She thinks Gent has many things that contribute to it being a great place to run: it is a nice place to run, you can easily find fellow runners by joining a club and there are many running events to keep the motivation high.

Image of Karen running with author and garden journalist Laurence Machiels, through Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen, a nature reserve on the outskirts of Ghent.
Karen Van Audenhaege (on the right) running at Blaarmeersen with author and garden journalist Laurence Machiels. © Jeroen Van Goey

Trails and tracks

Gent has varying terrains and environments including urban, water and green areas. The trails are mostly flat but for hill repeats, there are options, like the ‘ski-hill’ in Blaarmeersen.  

Image of Blaarmeersen hill ski piste for running in Ghent
The hill in Blaarmeersen is popular for runners doing hill repeats

Many clubs and communities

There is a club for every runner level, from absolute beginners to recreational to professional athletes. Karen thinks there are many benefits for expats to join running clubs: it is great for integration because it is a social activity. An expat can also practise the local language while exercising.  

Gent Running Team

Karen’s group Gent Running Team’s slogan is: “from joggers to addicts” and focuses on the community aspect of running. Aside from training in groups at various levels (30 mins up to 2hrs), there are also social activities, like BBQs, ice cream runs, beer runs… “Running should – in the first place – be fun”, Karen says.

Amongst their 300+ members, there are already some internationals, mostly PhD students. “But more are welcome”, says Karen.

Gent Running Team organizes training on Mondays (7.30pm), Wednesdays (7.30pm) and Saturdays (10am) and start at Loods25 (Address: Vissersdijk 1, 9000 Gent) located near Watersportbaan. You can find more info about Gent Running Team (in Dutch only) here: https://www.gentrunningteam.be/praktisch/

Running events

With at least a dozen different running events taking place around the year there is always a new challenge awaiting. Karen’s favourites are the scenic night runs going through the city with its many lights. The night runs take place twice a year, during midwinter and midsummer.

The image is a picture of dirty shoes of runners
There are many running events organised in Ghent throughout the year © Ineke Imbo

Here is our run-down of the events taking place in or near Ghent during 2018 and 2019. Visit the individual websites for information on entrance fees, distances and conditions. Please note some links might lead to last year’s event and the subscription for the next event isn’t open yet. In these cases please contact the organiser for updates.

The Marathon van Gent is the first event on the list. People can also run 5K or 10K or 21K. Stefaan Engels started the initiative of getting Ghent its own marathon last year. Stefaan is also known as marathonman365 because he’s the first man to run the marathon distance 365 consecutive times in a single year!

A general calendar of all running events in Belgium is available from the following link: http://loopkalender.be.

Here are some running events taking place in Gent – check the link for the exact dates:

Picture of Vladimir Lazov finishing the Haven Gent Loopt
Vladimir Lazov from Macedonia finished the Haven Gent Loopt race happily and finds Gent a great city for running

Running clubs

Image of black and white running shoes in Gent
There are many running clubs in Ghent motivating runners at all levels © Martin Vereecken
  1. Gent Running Team offers training in group, 3 training sessions per week in 7 different levels (from runners to addicts). The groups are very flexible: you can switch group at any time. Focus on the community aspect and lots of (ultra) trail running experience in this club.
  2. Mycoachmarathonman also offers training in a group with 3 training sessions per week with different groups for different levels. There is lots of marathon experience in this club.
  3. De loopcoach organises workshops, one-to-one personal training sessions, group running and will even create you a personal running and diet plan. It is targeting all groups of runners and running distances starting from 5km up to marathon distance of 42km.
  4. Stad Gent provides information on their website about official running clubs and start dates for the training.
  5. Looptraining in Belgie offers running sessions in Ghent, Bruges and Ostend. The team of professionals will create a personal plan depending on your level, and all levels are welcome.
  6. Blue Globe Sports offers various courses and seminars on running, biking, swimming, triathlon, inline skating and hiking. Contact them for an analysis of your running technique, a running plan or to join the running club.
  7. There are also athletics clubs. They are more focussed on short distances and not so much on recreational runners. Examples of athletics clubs are KAA Gent or KRC Gent.

Running communities

  1. Running communities

    1. Let’s Run together: a Facebook community of runners who run together at Watersportbaan during fall and spring. Not only great for motivation and safety while running on dark winter evenings, but you also support 42 charity organizations by joining their runs.
    2. Lopers van Gent is a digital community active on Instagram of runners who posts motivational pictures of themselves, runs and running buddies using the tags  #lopeningent and #lopersvangent.
    3. Gent Running Community: With >1000 members, the biggest Facebook community by and for runners in Gent. Looking for carpooling to a running event? Looking for advice? It’s all possible in this group.
Picture of people running in Gent
Running in groups is more fun © Boudewijn Van Autreve

Shops

Before you run off, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right gear. Here are four shops in Ghent:

  1. Before you head off, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right gear. Here are four shops in Ghent:
    1. Runners’ lab is Belgium’s largest running specialist store offering professional advice on functional footwear, orthopedic modifications and custom orthotics technology. They do a foot stride diagnosis to advise you with the right shoe. The Ghent Runners’ lab location is by the Ghelamco Arena
    2. Decathlon is a large store selling various sports gear located near Dampoort and the port of Ghent. They offer some running specific clothes and shoes at an affordable price.
    3. The Trakks store is located just outside Gent in Sint-Denijs-Westrem. Trakks specialises in running, trail running and hiking gear. They also do a foot stride diagnosis to advise you with the right shoe.
    4. Sports Direct is also located in Sint-Denijs-Westrem and is a general sports shop with running gear from the mainstream brands New Balance, Nike, Adidas etc along side with cheaper brands such as Karrimor and Under Armor.

Gym and fitness

Sometimes you need to strength train to become a better runner and minimize the risk of injuries. Then you need a gym. Here is the Square’s guide for gyms in Ghent: link.

Running routes

Nature resorts, parks and river banks are popular places for runners. And Ghent isn’t short on any of these. Below you’ll find some of the popular routes in and around the Bourgoyen nature reserve, Watersportbaan, Blaarmeersen, along with the Leie, Gentbrugge and Parkbos. Each of these locations offers suggested tracks for all types of runners and their favourite surface.

image a heat map displaying popular places of running in Gent
Heat map displaying popular places of running in Gent ©Strava

 

Image of running in Gent map Bourguyen

Bourgoyen nature reserve: 7.4 km, flat surface, mostly grass or dirt trails

Image of running in Ghent map Watersportbaan

Watersportbaan: 5 km, flat running ‘woodland’ track with a soft surface consisting of wooden chips. This doesn’t get muddy and slippery even if it rains. It’s called a ‘Finse Piste’ because these types of trails can be found in abundance in Finland.

Image of map of Blaarmeersen running trail

Blaarmeersen: 5 km, flat surface mostly dirt trails

Image of Running in Gent map Drongen

Drongen: 10km, flat surface both dirt trails and asphalt.

 Image of Running in Gent map Gentbrugge

Gentbrugge: 17 km, mostly flat concrete/asphalt sidewalks and some dirt roads. Instead of doing the whole tour, you can also follow the Schelde and come back by the other side of the water. Or, if you’re very adventurous, you can also keep following the Schelde until you’re tired and hitch hike back.

 

Image of Running In Gent map Parkbos

Parkbos: 10 km, mostly dirt roads and also some concrete/asphalt roads, a bit outside Gent (between Sint-Denijs-Westrem and Sint-Martens-Latem).

 

More

For some more tips on where to go running in Ghent, try Strava, EdomondoMapMyRun or RunMap

You can also try philosophical running with “The Trail Of Thought”, see more here.

Other

Did we miss out on an essential tip to make your run in Ghent even better? Then contact us at hello@thesquare.gent, or leave a comment below.

 

Karen Van Audenhaege and Vladimir Lazov contributed to this article.

Updated August 2018

Note: the information on this page is based on the information found on the official government and local websites, and on the experience of the authors. While we have done our best to make sure it is accurate, rules and regulations change and each individual situation might be different, so it is always a good idea to check with appropriate authorities for the latest information. Consequently, the authors do not assume any responsibility or liability for any issues or damages stemming from the use of the information found on this website.

 

 

Jenny
Jenny moved to Gent late 2009, and stayed for a Gentenaar she met at a party in the Charlatan. She combines her interest in entrepreneurship and her love for unique experiences and works as an event organiser and is the Community Manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous. Please connect: https://be.linkedin.com/in/jennybjorklof
https://be.linkedin.com/in/jennybjorklof

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