Monday, August 16, 2010

Lake Norman State Park is for Runners

When I was born a runner at the age of 30 I decided that I was a city mouse.  Over the span of several years all of my running took place on concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads.  A few forays into the wilderness of trail running made me nervous - of unsure footing, critters, poisonous plants, and who knows what else.  And trail runners.  The ones I met were too calm, too happy, and too self-assured.  Didn't they know that running was all about pounding pavement in order to better one's P.R.?  How could they be happy with running at a ten minute/mile pace on dirt when they could achieve a seven minute/mile pace on the road?  You can't just prance about in the forest like some sort of woodland sprite, you've got to suffer out there!

When my wife Laurie and I moved to southern California I discovered that there was a series of trails near the house.  One day I laced up my shoes and headed down the trail.  Wow, the sights, sounds, and smells were nothing like street running.  Never had to jump over rattlesnakes before; never saw so many deer that were actually alive and not dead on the side of the road; never smelled so many wildflowers.  Over time I began to really enjoy trail running and learned how to vary my stride and pace in order to "go with the flow" of the land.

When we moved back to North Carolina I found that there were trails nearby but getting there required a short drive in the car.  I'd rather spend more time running than driving and so stuck with the two Davidson-area trails, Fisher Farm and Davidson College's cross county trail.

One of my running buddies, Whitney D., invited me last week to run at Lake Norman State Park.  Lake Norman State Park is located on the northern end of Lake Norman near Troutman and has miles of trails for your running, hiking, and biking enjoyment.  Whitney is an experienced trail runner and familiar with all the trails at the park so I asked her to take the lead in a run.  We hit the Monbo Loop trail, which is about six miles of singletrack.  The trail was clean and solid and not too many roots or rocks.  We dodged a couple of mountain bikes coming in the opposite direction but otherwise saw no one.

The park has over 15 miles of runnable trails within it's confines and is conveniently located about 30 minutes from the Davidson area.  To get there take I-77 north to exit 42 and go left toward Troutman.  In downtown Troutman take a sharp left onto Wagner St.  Wagner St. turns into Perth Rd.  Bear right onto State Park Rd. (there's a sign for Lake Norman State Park) and you will arrive at the park.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

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