My new home town has great potential for pedestrian exploration. Looking at running as a mode of environmental exploration, as opposed to exercise, competition, or self-discovery (well, ‘opposed to’…nothing is ever not part of the package, but focus does matter) makes for different requirements. The city is huge and getting a feel for its diversity, its epic proportions, frantic development, fast disappearance of the old, and emergence of its next incarnation, requires being on your feet for more than the usual 5-10k. Half a marathon distance is where it just starts. Less can still give you a nice taste of diversity – depending on which part of the city you explore – but it doesn’t convey the massive scale of the place. Now scale is arguably an important feature, but why this emphasis? For me, one distinguishing feature of running Shanghai is that only when you put in a fair number of kilometers, and from A to B at that, you realize how much must be out there. Obviously, a small run around the park, staying by definition within one neighborhood, cannot do that. But distances that would give you a good tour de ville in most other places still only scratch the surface here. Shanghai’s superb public transport system makes from A to B very easy, else it would have started only at marathon distance.
The best general Shanghai doc I could find online so far is already a couple of years old (thus by definition outdated, although the economic crisis has also slowed down development here) and a German language dubbed French (arte) production. So be it:
I recently came across a nice description of my kind of pedestrianism: running without haste, coined by Dutch photographer and adventure lady Jolanda Linschooten (sorry: all links Dutch language). Only then has the environment a chance to get through our often cluttered doors of perception. The old and the new, the architecture and the people, the streets and the parks, the markets and the public facilities, the residential quarters and the industrial areas, the artsy-fartsy corners and the piss smelling under-passes. A friend taught me that this is a great way to make an environment your own. Today I tried a first run connecting various previous explorations, with Shanghai rivers as its theme. Turned into a beyond marathon from A to B distance but even then, it just covers small bits of this 21st century metropolis (if you click on the image an everytrail.com version opens that you can zoom in on; when you do: use the satellite mode because the map placement is several hundred meters off).
Thought about music that would go along this theme. Problem is that the rivers are not each others equals. But the below does fit one of them quite well, both in its easy-going and its wild versions: enjoy the majestic Huangpu,