OK, I am not literally running the whole way across America. We are driving 2/3 of the way across America (from Pennsylvania to Colorado – 2,000 miles) and running at various stops along the way.
What follows is a journal from a few of our runs.
Our first stop was in Maumee, just outside of Toledo, Ohio.
The run began on a pretty, shaded gravel towpath beside the Maumee River. It was hot and humid, even at 6:30 in the morning.
We saw three deer less than 10 feet from the path, one of them a faun still sporting his spots. When we ran past, they continued munching, unfazed. They must be used to humans hurling themselves along beside the river, panting and sweating at sunrise.
The towpath followed the river for a mile and a half, then turned onto a paved bike path in the town’s Metropark.
The paved path soon joined the famed Wabash Cannonball Trail, a rail-trail that stretches for 64 miles across northern Ohio.
We didn’t run the whole Wabash trail.
We just did a quick five-mile out and back, then returned to our car for the next leg of the journey.
Our next stop was Coralville, Iowa, near Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
We began our run at the Tom Harkin Trailhead outside of town.
When we scouted out the area the day before, we saw a mixture of paved bike paths and dirt trails.
There were bathrooms, water fountains (not functional due to the pandemic), an air pump for pumping up bike tires, and trail maps at the trailhead, an excellent set-up.
The morning we arrived for our run was overcast, humid, and dripping rain, so we opted for The Clear Creek Trail, a paved path.
The gently rolling trail followed a creek (I’m guessing Clear Creek) through the woods, then passed through a field where a riot of wildflowers bloomed. It eventually wound its way past the rugby fields of the university. When the path emptied out onto a sidewalk next to a major road at the two-mile mark, we turned around and headed back to the trailhead for a total of slightly over four miles.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful run.
North Platte, Nebraska
This was the easiest run of the trip and the one I liked least.
Despite searching online for a good place to run in North Platte, we came up empty. I am sure locals could have given us plenty of suggestions, but we wound up running about four miles out and back on the road next to our hotel.
It wasn’t terrible – the lightly traveled road passed hotels, RV campsites, a business park, a golf course, and the local brewery where we had eaten dinner the night before (if you ever find yourself in North Platte looking for a beer and some good grub, I highly recommend Peg Leg’s – they have a great outdoor space).
Most of the road, however, had little or no shoulder and it was pancake flat. After our last two runs at beautiful spaces, this one was sort of a let-down.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
We finally got to run at our destination, our son’s house in Colorado.
The scenery here is always beautiful. We have several different routes we follow when we visit.
My favorite, pictured above, is the most scenic and the most difficult. I don’t think I have ever done it without several (OK, many) walk breaks.
This run begins in a small park in the neighborhood, then transitions to a county road. The road is paved at first, dirt after about two miles.
Depending on how far we run on this hilly out and back course, the road climbs, climbs, climbs, winding past fields, ponds, small stands of trees, and ranches. I have seen deer and elk browsing near the road.
If you run far enough, the road drops several hundred feet in elevation, down to a creek where Sandhill Cranes can be seen at certain times of the year.
I always struggle when I run at elevation in Colorado. The first run is especially bad. This has gotten worse as I get older, so my long-held plans to run the Steamboat Marathon have been scuttled as a result.
Our first run this year was a three-miler, my minimum distance for any run. I needed no fewer than four walk breaks on this short run.
The best scenery of all in Colorado is in this photo. Thin air is no problem for this guy. When I took this picture, I was standing at the top of the hill in the little park, trying hard to catch my breath after walking up the hill. My grandson easily bounded to the top without stopping, then turned around and flew back down, calling for us to follow.
I think he’s going to be a trail runner.
I hope he will sometimes slow down so I can keep up.
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