A runner’s guide to the best routes near campus

USC’s campus is home to countless runners. Some choose to run on the track; others utilize the Lyon Center’s generous facilities; still others prefer to run outdoors around campus.

For years, USC has had a reputation for being a less-than-desirable surrounding area. Many runners chose not to run around campus or the surrounding neighborhoods.

But in recent years USC has done an admirable job improving off-campus safety, positioning numerous DPS officers and increasing the number of LAPD drive-bys in recent months.

That is not to say that runners should feel comfortable with running in the dark, be it early in the morning or late at night; this is not recommended in any area, regardless of the reputation. However, with proper preparation and knowledge, runners can go on a successful run of any distance around USC.

The most well known route is the 2.2-mile loop around the school, keeping close to USC’s fences. This run is well lit, visible, and flat — perfect for beginners. To add another mile onto the loop, travel down Vermont Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Make a right, and the loop back to campus will take you past all of Exposition Park, including the Coliseum, the California Science Center and the Rose Gardens. Beware of uneven pavement in the stretch of King Blvd., which is in need of repaving.

Runners might be discouraged from running into downtown due to traffic congestion and fear of crowds, but Figueroa Street is one of the safer areas to run near USC. An out-and-back trip to Olympic, for example, clocks in around four miles round trip; more experienced runners might consider running to Wilshire (five miles) or to the Disney Concert Hall on Grand Avenue and Second Street (eight miles).

As long as runners pay attention to streetlights and pedestrians (and run during daylight hours), a run through downtown can be an interesting way to explore part of LA. If Figueroa is too crowded for you, Flower Street — one block over — is normally less congested, with equally interesting shop fronts and architecture.

It is not recommended to run west of Vermont, or south of King Boulevard. In addition, runners should remember to bring a form of identification at all times, as well as a phone if possible. When running in heavily populated areas, such as downtown, headphones are not recommended, as they make it more difficult to hear traffic.

The area around USC has a stigma of being dangerous at all hours of the day, but in truth, it is safe for most of the daylight hours thanks to USC’s efforts to improve safety. Runners should feel free to take advantage of the paved routes around campus, but should still be aware at all times.