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 running in Ghent so nice?
Karen Van Audenhaege is an avid runner herself and co founder and trainer of the running club Gent Running Team. She thinks Ghent 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
Ghent 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.
You can find more info about Gent Running Team (in Dutch only) here: https://www.gentrunningteam.be/praktisch/
Running in Ghent 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.
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 and 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 Ghent – check the link for the exact dates:
- March: Marathon van Gent, Sfinx Ekiden, Gent Urban Trail
- April: Levensloop
- May: Wings for life, Stadsloop De Gentenaar, Boterkoekenloop
- June: Midzomernachtrun
- October: Blaarmeersentrail
- December: Warmathon
Here is a list of the best running clubs in Ghent:
- Gent Running Team
- De loopcoach
- Looptraining in Belgie
- Blue Globe Sports
You can also check the Stad Gent page about running in Ghent for some additional tips. In addition, there are athletics clubs which 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 active on social media
If you’re not sure if you want to join a club yet, you can always follow or join one of these running communities on social media. Running in Ghent is also a great way to meet new people!
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 Ghent 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.
Running in Ghent 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.
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 Ghent (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 running 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.