In Praise of Running Loops

Trexler Memorial Park is still among my favorite places I’ve ever gone running. It has been over a decade since I ran there, and I can still recall vividly what it was like. That is what parks should be: the place that stays with you.

I still recall the sight of a flock of grey-white birds lifting in unison from a broad, green treetop, swirling like flakes in a snowglobe in the sky before resting back onto the branches, hidden again among the thick foliage. I can still see the faces of park visitors with palms extended upwards as chickadees ate birdseed from their hands. People with blankets spread on the emerald green grass reading a book.

Trexler Memorial Park
Trexler Memorial Park. Photo from Lehigh Valley Health Network.

I have absolutely no memory of anyone there every being angry or upset. How could you be? It was lovely.

While there are places with some similar appeal in the Triangle – Pullen Park comes to mind – it would take me about an hour to get there from Durham. There are nice trails around lakes in Raleigh as well. And while Durham has up-and-back trails that are nicely suited to running, no matter what distance or drills you are planning to do, I do see that there are missed opportunities to make something more like Trexler happen here.

Northgate park is a perfect example. Instead of a nice loop that would be about 2 miles long around the park, they bisected it with an up-and-back. Duke East Wall is a nice running path, but it doesn’t compare to the 12-foot wide trail that Trexler has. Plus, their distance markers are clear and obvious for you to keep track without a GPS app reminding you.

With obesity such a problem for our country’s health and economy, it is in our best interest to create outdoor spaces that invite and incentivize people to get outside and get moving. I hope that park designers put more thought into the outdoor fitness opportunities their designs can impact. My 2 cents.

Where is your favorite park to get out and move?

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