You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal? How does a pathway that runs along a creek in town evoke a personal connection?” If you regularly walk or run the Greenway, you know what I mean.
My story begins when I was asked to serve on the inaugural Greenway board back in 2004. I was a member of the board of directors for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and they asked me to serve as their representative. I was acquainted with the project, mostly because I had an office at the Church of God International Offices on Keith Street. I could see the strip of asphalt on the west side of the campus was getting a lot of traffic even though it dead-ended at the 25th Street bridge.
In the fall of 2004 when the board was formed, Phase 2 was well under way from 25th Street to Raider Drive. I first noticed the progress off of Harris Circle as drainage culverts were being placed prior to pouring the walkway. In 2005, Phase 2 was completed and I was privileged to participate in my first event on the Greenway, a recognition luncheon and ribbon-cutting in August 2005.
Later that year, I would be privileged to supervise the construction of the two stone pillars at the Greenway entrance on Willow Street, a gift of the Cleveland Rotary Club. In late 2006, Gov. Phil Bredesen paid a visit to our community, specifically to inspect Phase 2 of the Greenway, which had been funded through a generous grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
However, through all that I had yet to become a patron of the Greenway. Other than a few cursory walks along various portions of the 1.88 miles, it wasn’t until 2007 that I truly came to see the value of the Greenway in our community. In the early months of that year, a group of friends were preparing to run the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. Although I wasn’t in training for the race, I decided to join them on a few of the runs.
In the weeks that followed, I not only developed a love for running, but a love and appreciation for the Greenway. As I watched my friends take off with over 30,000 runners at the Nashville race that April, I felt a genuine sense of being left out and determined at that moment I would adopt a lifestyle of running.
My passion for the Greenway has been non-stop since that time as I have run it hundreds of times while training for race events. I ran my first half marathon in Philadelphia on Nov. 18, 2007, and have participated in 31 more, as well as many smaller races and one full marathon, the Marine Corps, in Washington D.C. on Oct. 30, 2009. On Dec. 30, 2009, I logged my 1,000th mile for the year, completing that quest — where else? — on the Greenway.
Over the last five years there have been several exciting events, improvements, dedications and ribbon-cuttings associated with the Greenway, but my personal satisfaction comes with how the Greenway has impacted my life. It is my favorite place to run and I beam with pride at its existence in our community.
Do you have a Greenway testimonial? You are invited to write in and tell us. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.