By Sheryl Chatfield
I provided my campus list a few weeks ago; here is my list of places in the Oxford city limits. There is no way I could mention all of the possible neighborhoods to run in, so I focused on my favorite spots.
Pat Lamar Park – Corner of College Hill and Country Club Road.
Pluses – My favorite park to run in, and actually one of my favorite places in Oxford for running. 1.5-mile big loop, bathrooms, water fountains, drink machines, places to sit, bike racks. Some .25-mile markers on the loops. Rarely seems crowded, probably because it is so large.
Minuses – Not easily accessible other than by car/bus from much of town or campus (just over 2 miles from campus). Lots of rolling to hilly terrain.
Plus or minus, depending on your view – Paved surface (although there is a lot of grass).
Bottom line: Large and attractive park located just on the edge of town
Avent Park – Park Road and Douglas/Williams
Pluses – Multiple activities (play areas for kids, tennis courts, soft surface garden path, disc golf, paved walking path with some distance markers); drink machines, bathrooms, water fountains.
Minuses – Very little total distance – you might get a mile by combining the long (second) entrance for vehicles with both the paved and garden paths. This park is regularly used for family and school events during the nice weather so it is sometimes crowded; parts of the walking trail will be off limits during the Halloween “Haunted Trail” event.
Plus or minus, depending on your view – The walking trail is mostly paved; the new replacement pavement is harder (concrete) than the older surface.
Bottom line: A nice family-friendly neighborhood park for a short walk or jog.
Sisk Avenue/Conference center area – East of Hwy 7 up until the road ends at the still under construction high school.
Pluses – Mostly light traffic now. Multi-use trail on one side of the road. During the summer, traffic is minimal once you are past the Hampton, although there is some construction and Wendy’s traffic during peak hours. I run on the short (.27 mile) stretch of Ed Perry Blvd (across the road from the Hampton), up and down the very steep hill behind the movie theater building, and up or down Sisk to the end of the road. There is not a lot of distance but there are low traffic places to do some hill repeats or loops.
Minuses – Hard to get to if you are on the wrong side of Hwy 7. Best in early mornings and frankly after this summer, running or walking in the area may be nearly impossible. The traffic is already bad during the week due to Della Davis and school buses; once the new high school opens and the movie theater re-opens (and Ed Perry Blvd is extended to Hwy 30), I would plan to use the multi-use trail along the side of the road and stay off the other roads, other than possibly very early on weekend mornings.
Bottom line: A likely short term alternative for hard core runners looking for some variety and willing to work around the challenge of getting there.
Double Decker 10k (or 5km) route/Old Taylor road hill – Starts and ends at the Mid-Town shopping center. A map of the most current routes can be found at: http://doubledeckerspringrun.racesonline.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=site.display&page_id=5491
Pluses – A measured route with sidewalk available for most of the race route. The hill that goes past Rowen Oak is just about 1 km in distance from the Taylor/Old Taylor intersection to the manhole cover in the road just down from the Rowen Oak entrance. This has been a ‘go-to’ spot for me to do hill repeats as preparation for either the Double Decker or the Run 4 Hope half marathon. If you run the entire race route, there is a decent mix of climbing and descending. The 5km route is similar with a different climb into campus (Sorority Row versus Fraternity Row) and misses the Old Taylor/Rowen Oak climb. There is ample parking at the shopping center.
Minuses – Be prepared to stop at some of the intersections such as Washington and Jackson. Construction through campus right now makes the 10 km run about impossible (or longer if you follow the detour). There has been some type of construction on this route on and off for a few years. Some of the sidewalks, Price Street and North Lamar, for example, have uneven spots. Getting through the square is often tough no matter which way you go.
Bottom line: – A fun and challenging course although you may need to adapt the route for construction.
Run 4 Hope course (portions) – Bike lane on North Lamar, Molly Barr, McElroy, College Hill. My rules of thumb for safely running in bike lanes include running facing traffic, staying far to the right to give cyclists plenty of room and never limiting my hearing (no music or phone).
Pluses – Mostly wide lanes with moderately long stretches between turns and stops. Take the Depot trail approximately .4 mile from Molly Barr to the Price Street tennis courts if you need a drink (based on past experience, you can count on this during the warmer months only), or from College Hill, jump on the loop at Lamar Park. There are water fountains throughout the park.
Minuses – Lots of motor vehicle traffic. Cars going up Molly Barr near the Chickasaw turn often verge into the bike lane (one reason I advocate running toward the traffic). These lanes tend to have a lot of debris, which is far less of an issue for a runner/walker than a cyclist. The College Hill bike lane does not go all of the way to Jackson (if you are running toward Jackson facing traffic, take the path segment over to Washington.)
Plus or minus, depending on your view – Standard asphalt surface. Most of these roads are rolling to hilly; Molly Barr in particular has both up and down segments no matter which way you go.
Bottom line: – For people looking for more distance who don’t mind running around motor vehicle and bicycle traffic
Oxford High School Track – Bramlett Blvd. My rule of thumb on a track – run half of your laps in each direction. This evens out the impact of the curves on your legs.
Pluses – Rubber, distance generally easy to calculate. Some people who walk move from the inner to outer lanes (there are 8) in order to keep track of laps. No concerns about vehicle traffic. You can bring a drink and never be more than 400 meters away from it.
Minuses – Unpredictable access 6 days of the week, all year. You can usually count on access to this facility on Sundays and very early on weekdays. During the academic year, there are events and practices during and after school hours (rarely before) and often on Saturdays. During football season, there may be obstacles left on the track for a day or more after the games. During my time in Oxford, I have found summer weekday access increasingly unpredictable. The facility is sometimes locked up tight (especially after an event) although this is not usually the case.
Plus or minus, depending on your view – Constant flat terrain.
Bottom line: Oxford residents are lucky to have access to a track of this quality; very nice facility for speed workouts but less fun for distance.
Did I miss someplace in Oxford you really like for running or walking? Let me know: email@example.com
Sheryl Chatfield is currently a graduate student in Health and Kinesiology in the Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management Department at Ole Miss. She plans to complete her dissertation work during the 2013-14 academic year. Sheryl grew up in central Ohio and took a 20-year break from academics after completing her bachelor’s degree at The Ohio State University. Through the years, she has worked as a piano teacher, an insurance broker, a landscaper, a disability recreation assistant and a lifeguard. Her other less profitable past experiences have included playing in rock bands, small-scale sheep farming and winemaking. She has traveled to Europe several times and lived in Pocatello, Idaho; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Lake Worth, Florida; and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, before temporarily settling down in Oxford to complete her Ph.D. degree in health and kinesiology with emphasis on health behavior and promotion. In addition to being a graduate student and instructor, Sheryl enjoys running, cycling, swimming, working on bicycles, sewing, and reading.