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Happy trails to me

February 23, 2010

Later in life than many people, I became a runner. More of a hobby runner, really. I’m not very fast, but I like to think I’m persistent. And I love, love, love the running environment of Scottsbluff.

The slightly thinner atmosphere at 3,800 feet took some adjustment, but I consider it a bonus, a competitive advantage. It makes me feel scrappier to know that I can now run with 10% less oxygen. If I were more aggressive, I might trash-talk my Iowa running buddies, maybe with the BolderBOULDER Colorado race motto: sea level is for sissies.

I love that the sun often warms the temps into the 40s on winter afternoons, and I’m really looking forward to running in the summer, in the dry coolness of morning, without all the sticky, humid, exhalations of corn fields that I’m used to.

There are oodles of delicious, low-traffic, joint-friendly gravel roads here, most of them flat, with an occasional gentle hill for spice. Sometimes when I’m out running, I get the Cole Porter song going through my head: Don’t Fence Me In.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don’t fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don’t fence me in.
Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze,
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don’t fence me in.

The gravel road: a lovely spot for a run, provided the wind's not kicking.

This past Saturday morning, I met some members of the nascent local running group to chug out a few miles on the roads just north of town. Despite the recent snowfall, the road was in great condition. Most of the snow had been cleared. Maybe an inch of fresh snow was covering the gravel — just enough to reveal the scratchings of ground birds and the tracks of some wee beasties who, for reasons unknown, crossed the dangerous, wide road sometime near dawn.

We runners only saw one vehicle on this road — a pickup truck. We waved to the driver as he passed, as per common country courtesy, and he waved back, cigarette in hand.

“Geez, a smoker. I don’t understand why people do that.”

“Geez, out running at eight o’clock on a twenty-degree Saturday morning in the snow. I don’t understand why people do that.”

If the gravel roads get too muddy in the spring, a nice, flat path runs for about 1.7 miles along the North Platte River: the Monument Valley Pathway. I’ve not had a chance to run this route yet. Supposedly, links are being developed between this path and the U Street Pathway in Gering, which connects to a bike path leading up to Scotts Bluff National Monument, for a total of about 6 miles.

And speaking of the monument, the Saddle Rock Trail is the ultimate in hill training. The 1.6-mile trail climbs about 480 feet from the Visitors Center, according to the Google-maps-based USA Track & Field route mapper (the Parks Service gives an elevation gain of 433 feet). Scotts Bluff has become my personal challenge.

Some day! [Shakes fist.] Some day I will be able to jog all the way to the top without stopping to walk!

View from the tunnel on Saddle Rock Trail, about a mile from the start of the path at the Visitors Center, which is hidden just behind the monument in this photo. 280 vertical feet traveled, 200 to go.

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2010 3:07 pm

    I was wondering how your run went with the snow and all…
    Your last blog about study abroad made me think of some friends who work in the alternative learning/financial assistance programs: Donna Berge, Cee Merigan, Chris Wolfe, and Rachel Gonzales. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this before–


  1. The ailing citizenry of Scottsbluff « SCB Citizen

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