I parked my car in down town in that part of lower Loop Street where most squeaky clean trail runner types don’t venture. Between the strip clubs and bad karaoke doors just about to open their doors to trade for the night. Welcome to the dark side of the trail. My old mentor and Jedi of past moved from the shadows. I could hardly get my Camelbak onto my back before he spun on his heels and I had to sprint to catch up. The beep of my Polar echoed behind. There was a low cloud hanging over town and the threat of a storm was in the air.
We headed into oncoming traffic and up the closest hill, weaving through homebound traffic. Suddenly there was the gateway we were looking for. Unnoticed to most and certainly invisible to the untrained eye. The sliver of a single track went plumb up the hill, steep enough so that my heels did not touch the ground and the fire in my quads was raging. This breed of trail running was not the kind you can learn from a “5 step plan” in Shape Magazine. This is the real deal. Rusted barbed wire fence forced a quick contour then more climb. The glimmer of city lights just enough to pick out detail underfoot. Picking up the pace as the terrain levelled. Concentrate or you will get hurt. Almost seduced by lycra clad figures ahead. But no, we took the low road. That way there would be more climbing later. Bring it on! Tree roots and low hanging branches. More climbing but by now the terrain is familiar.
Reprimanding to keep up! I up the pace in the growing gloom trying to make the best of a slip stream. Down back into the heart of the city. Oncoming traffic, weaving through groups of pedestrians. Some startled, some amused. Faster and faster. I have not run this pace for a while. A few intersections later we are at the start. And so it goes. Returning to the place you have been before to see what you have not seen before.
If you must have the stats 12 km, 590m of climb, in the heart of the city, mostly single track affectionately known as “Death Grip”.
PS the Karaoke clubs were trying to kill “American Pie” for another night.