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 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.
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.
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/
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.
Here is our run-down of the events taking place in or near Ghent. 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, 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:
- October: Marathon van Gent
- December: Warmathon
- March: Blaarmeersentrail, Sfinx Ekiden, Gent Urban Trail
- May: Wings for life, Stadsloop De Gentenaar, Boterkoekenloop, Levensloop
- June: Midzomernachtrun
- 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.
- Mycoachmarathonman also offers training in a different groups for different levels. There is lots of marathon experience in this club.
- 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.
- RunnInGent was set up by local Sarah who started out organizing lunchtime running sessions for work colleagues. Now she’s sharing her routes with travellers and expats who want an alternative way to discover the city. Her English-language website has all the details you need to get started.
- Stad Gent provides information on their website about official running clubs and start dates for the training.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Before you run off, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right gear. Here are four shops in Ghent:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 our guide to gyms in Ghent.
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.
Bourgoyen nature reserve: 7.4 km, flat surface, mostly grass or dirt trails
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.
Blaarmeersen: 5 km, flat surface mostly dirt trails
Drongen: 10km, flat surface both dirt trails and asphalt.
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.
Parkbos: 10 km, mostly dirt roads and also some concrete/asphalt roads, a bit outside Gent (between Sint-Denijs-Westrem and Sint-Martens-Latem).
You can also try philosophical running with “The Trail Of Thought”, see more here.
Did we miss out on an essential tip to make your run in Ghent even better? Then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Karen Van Audenhaege and Vladimir Lazov contributed to this article.
About the author:
Jenny is originally from Finland and moved to Ghent in 2009. Now she works as self-employed organising events, supporting businesses with marketing and helping people starting their own businesses by being a community manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous & co-organiser of Freelance Business Day. Find out more and connect with her on LinkedIn.