As soon as spring arrives, Columbus runners hit the local trails and roads, either dusting off their sneakers after a long winter break or heading outside after logging miles on a treadmill.

“There are so many wonderful places to run or walk in Columbus that narrowing them down is a matter of personal preference and where you live or work,” says Darris Blackford, race director for the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. Here are three of Blackford's favorite running spots.

Downtown Riverfront: There's a reason the Columbus marathon starts and ends at this location. Now that the paths are open along all sides of the river, people exercising can enjoy great views and the great outdoors. Blackford notes that the 1992 men's Olympic trial run was held in Columbus and finished on the riverfront. “You can run in the footsteps of Olympians,” he says.

Antrim Lake loop and the Olentangy trails: “I like starting at the lake, doing a loop on the crushed limestone, then going back to the parking lot, up and down the path to the right of the sledding hill, then [taking] the walkway to the tennis courts and back,” says Blackford. He says this route is about 2.5 miles. He suggests going north or south on the Olentangy Trail to add mileage.

Highbanks Metro Park: At this park between Worthington and Delaware, you'll find crushed stone trails. If you're looking for a more challenging run, Blackford suggests driving to the bottom of the park's road and repeating half-mile loops up the hill to the mansion shelter driveway and back down.