Sunday, October 7, 2012

Return to Battle Creek

The training has been going great thus far. Although, mostly on road or paved trail miles, St. Paul is such a beautiful place to run, its all good. But its not all great. That's where places like Battle Creek Park come in.

Battle Creek has become, over the years, my backyard playground. The meandering mountain bike single track (actually multi-purpose uses allowed) climbs steeply up heavily rooted, sandy bluffs on the proudest lines. The woods this time of year light up deep maroons, golden yellows and brilliant oranges; especially when running bathed in early morning or early evening sunlight. The steep, long hills are just relentless enough and spaced well for recovery time.

Mid-summer, the scene is lush green with impossible variety of shades and textures. One section of forest snakes across ravine contours covered in ferns and moss. Another through Maples and Oaks standing boldly as witness to your passing. Other times, you run through open prairie dominated by Big Bluestem on fire with color in autumn, standing tall a foot or two above your head and forming an alley of dancing, wavelike walls. Other times you simply find yourself frozen on vistas spanning the Mississippi River valley, massive riverine wetlands and view of downtown St. Paul that evoke pride in one's home town.

Six miles here is worth 8 or so hard-paced asphalt runs for me in terms of energy demands, but there is simply no comparison between the two environments for depth of fulfillment. Regardless of the massive effort required of a runner to keep running the single track trails of Battle Creek, the quality of "after-glow" I get in spending my time there breathing hard is, as of yet, only equalled or surpassed by the Superior Hiking Trail and portions of the Ice Age Trail near Luck, Wisconsin.

And this trail is in my back yard...