If you’ve run around Panama City, one of the first things you’ll notice is that it’s relatively flat. The most popular jogging routes, the Cinta Costera and Parque Omar, are great for gliding runs, but if your next race includes serious inclines…?
Cerro Ancón, the tree covered hill smack in the city center with a large Panamanian flag waving on top, is your answer. You may have to do several repeats to get in your full workout, but this paved, ~mile long, uphill trail offers a nice challenge!
Get there early, run lightly and keep your eyes peeled! Monkeys, sloths, ñeques, butterflies and an array of birds call Cerro Ancón home. And, at the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Casco Viejo, Canal and Downtown!
On top of the fantastic natural setting, Cerro Ancón also has an intriguing history. Formerly part of the US Canal Zone, Cerro Ancón has a mysterious network of bunkers running through it. The US Southern Command operated its radio communications from the hill. Cerro Ancón is also a grand symbol of Panamanian sovereignty. The giant flag was raised on the hill after the territory was returned to Panama in 1979 as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.
Watch out for bicycles and taxis as you cruise! Happy running!
In addition to the hard-to-miss Cinta Costera, one of my favorite spots to walk, jog or run is Parque Omar. Further from most hotels and a bit off the tourist path, it is easy to miss. The Park’s 3.5km loop offers some gentle, mini-hills, a nice sampling of Panama’s plethora of tree species as well as some great green space for wind sprints and stretching.
Before becoming Parque Omar, the space was home to Panama’s first golf club. In the 1970’s, under the rule of General Omar Torrijos, the club was made into a public park. As you run/explore, you’ll see numerous sculptures, artistic endeavors, and historic buildings.
After your run, stop by one of the juice stands near the front of the park to try a new fruit (they have the widest range of juices I’ve seen in Panama City – have you ever heard of borojo?!) or go for the all-time, electrolyte-filled classic, the agua de pipa (coconut water).
The park is usually open from 4am to 10pm, but it is worthwhile to double-check the hours before heading out as the schedule occasionally changes for construction etc.
If you’re looking to run a race while in Panama, see: http://www.corredoresdelistmo.com/web/ Running is increasingly popular in Panama City, and it seems that there is a race almost every weekend!