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joggers in Brussels

A lot of Brusselaar are absolutely mad about jogging.

I live across from the Cinquantenaire. I see joggers out in every weather: snowing, hot, raining, and so on. Well, mostly when it’s raining, because Brussels. And I imagine, if you’re going to take up a hobby like jogging in Brussels, you pretty much have to commit doing it even in the rain.

But the most absurd thing I’ve seen is how they’ll jog even through veritable war zones. During the covid protests, as I mentioned before, while the police were hosing down molotov-cocktail-wielding protestors, and a general melee was on-going, led by racing police on horseback wielding-batons, through a general haze of tear gas... there were still people jogging. You’ve got to be pretty effing determined to keep up the habit through that.

I imagine once we’re a nuclear wasteland after World War III, people will still be out jogging, wearing their cell phones on their arms with special Geiger counter apps reading the radiation, with stronger vibrations as it begins to detect increasingly fatal levels.

Saturday morning blues

Anyways, what brings up this rant?

I woke up with a slight hanger, which is of course, fairly typical on a Saturday morning. Especially one where the night before I was enjoying a free jazz festival in the old town (Europe’s largest free one). Maybe another blurb on that later. I’m quite used to rising early—not because I prefer it, but because my four-year-old likes to stick his head in my face and whisper, “Can I watch tv? I won’t watch it too loud.” To which I mutter, “Yeah, okay” and attempt to continue sleeping, even though in Brussels during summer 7:00 is already sun’s up. I just wish he didn’t feel the need to ask and just do it, so that I might actually be able to sleep a bit more…

Brussels audio tour

Take a tour with me in your ear guiding you about the upper town of Brussels, from Parc Royale through Sablon to the neverending renovations of the House of Justice, once the largest building in the world (by square footage). Check it out here.


But anyway, there were a bunch of bullhorns, loud music, and all that (not) jazz. I stepped out on my balcony armed with my coffee and looked out. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of joggers. And apparently no clear way to exit our apartment.

Well, whatever, good on them for keeping up that healthy lifestyle. And for many, I guess hitting the yearly 20K is quite an accomplishment. So well done joggers, congrats.

The Brussels 20K

I imagine as a jogger—and if I didn’t live across from the Cinquantenaire—the Brussels 20K would be a pretty iconic race. Imagine heading out of the park, winding through the densely lined streets of the city, and ending on an approach with the Triumphal Arches marking the end. I guess you’d feel pretty triumphant, especially if that were your first 20K run (or walk, if you prefer).

Brussels 20k at the start
Runners waiting to begin

And if you’re interested in the run, then sign up for the next year one here.

The route is pretty epic. It starts at the Cinq, goes into Sablon, one of the oldest bougie neighborhoods of the city, doing Avenue Louise which is one of three avenues described as “Brussels Champs Elysee”, known for its high-end shopping and hookers, in Bois de la Cambre (here and the Cinq are arguably the two favorite places for joggers), the freshest air park of the city, over along a forested boulevard that’s a bit out of town, through Parc Woluwe, past the most beautiful un-lived in house in the city (Stoclet Palace), and on towards the Triumphal Arches. And if you manage to finish all that, you get a free banana at the end!

map of Brussels 20k

The race started in 1980 and has been going every year since, except for the dark covid year of 2020. Last year, over 40,000 people took part, including The Queen of Belgium and a Prince.  

Brussels 20K finishing festival
The finishing festival

Ending the jogging festival area

This year, there were 48,723 joggers who arrived at the Cinquantenaire to a bundle of festivities. There’s the banana, for one. And then a few rows of tents with hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and a folk band from Indonesia. So that’s cool.

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