From April 12-19, I thought much of the above two points as a group of us literally ran from Cleveland to Boston in the Run Now Relay. If you subscribe to this newspaper you could not miss coverage of this journey of epic proportions of which I was privileged to be a participant.
As I do on every occasion when I travel, I took note of the running conditions. During the eight days of continuous 24/7 running by a team of 25 runners, I ran just over 40 miles in a variety of towns, temperatures, terrains and tempos.
My first run was six miles on the wide shoulder of Highway 11 north of Knoxville just before midnight on April 12. My subsequent runs were through smaller cities, such as Bristol in this state and Christiansburg and Waynesboro, Va. These were scenic runs that took me through the business districts and downtown areas, but all the way I kept looking for greenways. Just once, in Christiansburg, I was able to go for about a quarter of a mile on what seemed like a greenway, but it soon turned back into an obvious sidewalk and then into pure shoulder again.
The next two runs were totally different as I ran my miles through the outskirts of Philadelphia and the heart of New York City. In Philly, I had to dodge chunks of cracked, broken sidewalk, and run on patches of gravel until finally reaching my transition point, which was actually a very cool suspended pedestrian walkway with the city skyline just ahead. It was the closest thing I had encountered to a greenway to that point.
In NYC, we met the previous van to transition at 5:30 a.m. along the Hudson River Greenway. This was a beautiful — and I’m sure expensive — path for both cyclists and pedestrians that ran parallel to the parkway. But there was one problem: it didn’t open until 6 a.m.! So our runner had to actually run on the parkway until our swap of the GPS that had been tracking us.
About an hour later it was my turn. I had the heart of Manhattan, down Avenue of the Americas to Times Square and ending in Central Park, arguably the best place for running in America. Although somewhat hilly, the loop of Central Park is a runner’s paradise.
My final experience of running during the relay — before we finished at the start line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass. — was just outside Hartford, Conn. It was another night run, and no matter how much we studied the designated route, following it on unlit roads with speeding cars and virtually no shoulder became too dangerous. I logged my miles in a nearby town that started out beautiful and lit, but the sidewalks soon ran out, as did the light poles.
I share my running experiences during the relay as a point to illustrate how much more I now appreciate our Greenway. The fact that our Greenway is lighted 24/7 is a huge advantage. Many of the greenways in some large metropolitan cities may be longer and have some amenities, but rarely are they lit at night, which makes them virtually useless until the sun comes up.
The Hudson River Greenway in NYC may be beautiful and versatile, but there was not a four-mile stretch where there was not an encounter with a crossing vehicle. Here, we have four-plus miles that can be traversed without any cross-directional traffic.
The next time you take a run or stroll on our Greenway, don’t forget how lucky we are to have it in our community.
To learn more, visit www.cbcgreenway.com. On Facebook: The Greenway.