I wasn’t able to narrow it down to just one favorite, but I got close, getting it down to five. So, in no particular order, here they are…
♦ Ironman Wisconsin. It wasn’t always a favorite, but training for Ironman back in 2009 a group of us started meeting after work every Wednesday night for one loop through the course. It wasn’t until just a couple of weeks before Ironman that it hit us that we had been doing a Half-Marathon every Wednesday night after work, all summer long. The whole group of us have great memories and some sad memories from that summer and most of the group still gets together every weekend to run. We don’t always do the Ironman course, and when we do, we sometimes shorten it a bit, but we still run.
♦ Picnic Point. The beautiful thing about this run is that you can make it just about any distance you want. It’s just about 1 mile from the entrance to the tip of Picnic Point, so it can be a simple 2-mile run. Or start at the Union to add a little distance…or on the square to add a little more. You get the idea. And did you know that there is a little plaque at the tip of the point that you need to touch to make your Picnic Point run “official?” The plaque used to be on a pole at the end of the path, but since they redid the path, it has been moved to a rock, right next to the stairs that lead down towards the water.
♦ Aroboretum Loop. You can’t beat it | it’s almost exactly a 10k loop and it’s a beautiful, although a bit hilly course. BTW | the correct direction to run the Arboretum Loop is counter-clockwise. Race Directors should take note of that and adjust their races, so they are going in the proper direction.
♦ Lake Monona Loop. The first time that my friend Susan asked me to join her for a Lake Monona Loop, I thought she was crazy. The Lake Monona Loop is a bike ride…not a run! Or so I thought. It’s actually a beautiful run that I have come to love. It’s about 12 miles around the lake, depending on your exact route. The course is pretty clearly marked, with arrows on the pavement that were put there for the Lake Monona 20k race | although that race goes around the lake in a clockwise direction, and again, I contend that the proper way to do the Lake Monona Loop is counter-clockwise. You can still use the Lake Monona 20k markings | just go the opposite direction as the arrows point.
♦ Pheasant Branch Conservancy Loop. A couple of years ago, me and my friends traded off hosting runs at our homes | we called it “Home Runs.” The idea was that the group would get a chance to run where each person runs when they run from home. The hosting person was then responsible for brunch after the run. The Pheasant Branch Conservancy was my “Home Run.” I live very close to the conservancy, and it’s a beautiful run. It’s exactly four miles to run from my house and once around the loop | finishing just BEFORE you have to climb the last hill to get back to my house. The loop is all on well groomed, crushed gravel trails and here are several ways to add some distance to the run | either by heading out towards the airport (the trails are paved if you do that) or by climbing the big hill on the north side of the conservancy. Climbing the hill takes you off the well groomed trails and on some rougher trails, but the reward at the end is amazing | from the top of the hill there is a great view of the rest of the conservancey, Middleton and parts of Madison, and there’s a nice platform to stand on to enjoy the view and pretend you just won the Gold!
So there’s my favorite runs. What’s your favorite?