Thursday, May 23, 2013

Running in Nashville: Where to Run in Nashville

Nashville is a great city for runners. Sure, the summers are hot and humid and the winters are moderately cold and wet, but the city has invested in being foot friendly. It’s paid off in some beautiful runs.

Trails: The Cumberland River Greenway trail from North Nashville, past Germantown and into downtown is nice. I like it because you can make it long – about 10 miles out and back – and it gently rolls. As the name hints, it’s along the river, so the view can be pretty. The only downsides are: lack of shade and a few slightly dodgy parts. I wouldn’t recommend it to women for a night run.

Pre turtle sighting
HOWEVER, my new favorite trail is the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in East Nashville’s Inglewood.
“SB,” as the signposts call it, is mostly a flat, two-way path with short loops at each end. The loops plus the two-way bit add up to an absolutely luscious 8-mile run.

Shelby Bottoms Greenway isn’t just a trail without street crossings. Its path is set back in a long, wide greenbelt, so you don’t even hear car traffic. The quiet path is perfect for runners, cyclists, deer, rabbits and even turtles. Similar to the Greenway trail, much of SB has a view of the river.

Nose & Notes: You won’t have to stop and smell the flowers on this run. Thanks to honeysuckle and berry bushes in bloom right now, the air smells like sweet jasmine tea. Forgot your music? Cardinals rule these roosts, providing flashes of crimson and a steady accompaniment of song. Just watch where you step. The turtles don't even try to get out of the way.

This handy map shows Nashville's trails, parking and entrances. As the map shows, both of the runs I've mentioned here have off-shoots. Shelby Bottoms, for example, also connects to a local park and  golf course trail that can add miles to your run/ride, if you’re really committed.

Races: I can only speak on Nashville’s Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon and the Boulevard Bolt (a Thanksgiving tradition). Both fun. They each have their own character. 

Two of the 10 sumo suit shimmiers
Nashville's marathon in April is seriously rockin’. After all, this is Music City! Every block,
practically, comes with its own soundtrack. Sometimes it's as basic as a bunch women in sumo suits playing a boom box and dancing. In other spots, you get a live band. Both are guaranteed to help keep your feet moving, in a good way!

The Thanksgiving Boulevard Bolt is an entirely different affair. It’s a 5-mile roundtrip walk/run festooned with turkey costumes, pilgrim hats and a few of Santa's elves. While the owners of the fancy homes lining Belle Meade Blvd sit outside, drinking hot cider, mimosas and spiked nog, the real pep comes from the participants. Cheering, chatter and cow bells are common. 

After the race, one or two of the homes host brunches on their lawns. It’s hard to tell if these are open to all, but they sure look inviting when you’ve gotten up early and haven’t had your turkey yet.

Happy running in Nashville!