The following is a report of a Saturday Morning Run by Tammy-Leigh DeMent
For the Wanderers, weekend runs are always something of a choice-point. Some of the Wanderers get together at the inhuman hour of 8 am and run a fast course, starting at the Valley Green.
Then there are Wanderers who, well… wander.
Sometimes we start at 9. Sometimes 8.50, sometimes 9.30, it all depends on who is putting the route together for the week and how much we had to drink the night before. We start and end at Northwestern, wrapping it up at Bruno’s for breakfast/lunch. Usually the Great One puts the route/time together and we have to work around her beauty schedule (and believe me, she has quiet a beauty schedule, which is why she always looks so gorgeous!) So a few weekends ago, for a change, we had Matt Mauren organize the route. And what a treat it was!
Starting in West Philly at 44th and Pine, Matt’s scenic route took us on a jaunt through U Penn (lovely campus) and out past the Zoo (who doesn’t love the zoo?) over to West Parkpast the newly refurbished Memorial Hall and Centennial and Concourse lakes. We then took a lovely meander through the ever beautiful Horticultural Center. At the Hort Center the group got a little lesson on tree ID from Dr. D on the beautiful Cucumber Magnolia tree’s huge, um, er… seed pod. Leaves skittered across the pavement as the headwind challenged us to keep pace up the loopy roads of West Park past Belmont Plateau. As we headed down to West River Drive, the desire to run the 11 mile plan instead of wussing out with 9 overcame us. (The us being Dr. D, Matt, the Great One, and Eric.)
So SOMEONE thought that perhaps we should jog on over to East Park via Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Um, okay, but some others of us thought we had already gone kinda far and shouldn’t we be heading back to West Philly by now? Gratefully we replenished our water supply at mile 3 of the Schuylkill Loop Race (thanks Fred!) The bright but chilly day started looking ominous and threatening as we headed into ~insert dramatic music~ the Strawberry Mansion Section of town. On we journeyed past Strawberry Mansion and the Woodford Mansion until a quick stop at the Sunoco gave us a rest, because even Matt the Misleading tour guide needed a Powerbar for this way friggin long run, um, I mean for this lovely run and educational tour of much more of Philly than we had planned to see today. As we sauntered past the East Park Reservoir and Mander Playground hope renewed itself as we headed down the underutilized and quite pretty (rollingly hilly) Boxer’s Trail. The Great One sat down on a lovely boulder to take a rest but the boys were too far ahead to realize we were taking a break. Of course the joke was on us after we scaled the steep slope and found that we were not back in civilization yet.
~I must pause here to emphasis the loveliness of this trail… Insert pretty scenes and beautiful light shining through the remaining still green trees. The trail runs on the edge of the wooded hill top above Kelly drive. The view of the Schuylkill is pretty cool, and a view I would never had seen if Matt hadn’t planned the run and if Eric hadn’t urged that we go down the trail instead of keeping to the pavement. We got there by crossing from West River Drive over the Strawberry Mansion bridge (also a very cool and underutilized feature of Fairmount Park) into the Historic Mansion area of Woodford, where you can pick up the trail by the historic marker on 33rd Street. When completed the Boxer’s Trail, so named because it was used for decades as training ground for local boxers, will connect to the regional trail system that leads to Valley Forge. ~ On with the narrative ….
Eventually the expedition landed us back to familiar Kelly Drive. Matt the Mothering hung back to urge on Dr. D, and he enthusiastically encouraged her with reassurance in his voice as he promised it was a mere 1.8 miles to his house. Clouds parted and birds once again began to sing even as Dr. D was doing the calculations in her head…. Fountain Green Drive to the Art Museum is at least a mile, isn’t it? However, at Lloyd Hall the smiling faces of Pat and Fred timing the Schuylkill Loop race gave us a sojourn from our weary trek. Alas, the breather was too short we were forced to continue. M the M had the idea of ‘shaving’ mileage by scaling the landscape next to Spring Garden Bridge.
Luckily we all made it to the top without falling and cracking our skulls on the pavement below (and we apologize to the hard workers who planted all the new baby trees there, we tried to step around them!) Skies again clouded over two of the four (apparently Matt and Eric were having a SPLENDID time!) as they made their way back towards the Zoo area (stupid Zoo) and up 34th (G.D. West Philly) and FINALLY the last painful zigzag through Penn again (who put a University in the middle of this place ANYWAY, and how can it possibly be up hill both ways???). And then, at last, with some butts burning and some backs aching, the runners alternately sprinted cheerfully and limped their sorry asses the last mile back to 4410 Pine Street.
All joking and snarkiness aside (and meant in good fun), it was a GREAT run. I wish I had been prepared and trained to go that far…. it was more than 11, we’re pretty sure it was 13.5) I gave Matt a real hard time but he did a great job and I enjoyed the day, (although I enjoyed the eggs and hash browns afterward at least as much) THANKS MATT!