I am picking this blog post up nearly two months after the actual runs. I have had to do some research to jog my memory on the bus routes I took, but I do remember the salient points about the runs.
I ran Huffaker Park on Wednesday for my four mile run, Paradise Park Trail for the Thursday fartlek, and the Virginia Lake Loop Trail for my Friday four miler.
Huffaker Park: I remember how it was waaay too dark to see the street signs that I needed to determine where I should get off. When I got off the bus, it was about a five minute walk to the park. However, when I got there, I needed to take a No. 1 very badly. Unfortunately, the first restroom I came to on the park property was LOCKED. A fellow early morning traveler informed me that the nearest place with a public restroom was a couple of blocks away. Niiice…oh, well, a little warm-up jog couldn’t hurt.
Having emptied the bladder at a nearby convenience store, it was back to Huffaker Park for the run. I started running on what I thought was the trail, only to find that it had abruptly ended. That’s when I realized that 1) Huffaker Park was a lot smaller than I realized, and 2) I was on the wrong trail.
In the middle of Huffaker Park was this huge hill (not really a “mountain”), which was fenced off from the rest of the park. I looked closely at the map that was on the trail…and I realized that the large hill in front of me was the actual trail.
Oh, and the initial climb onto the trail was pretty steep.
Huffaker Park Lookout Trail was a 1.7 mile loop; most of it was gravel with some stretches of asphalt pavement. There are some good elevation changes on the front half of the loop, with a good flat drop near the back end of the loop. The trail also has four separate trail entrances that climb onto the main loop.
After running the first complete lap, I decided to add some challenge and distance to my run by running all the spurs attached to the trail. I had to be careful, because some of those spurs branched well off the park property. I met a few other people along the way, most of them out for a stroll with their pets. I remember reading signs posted along the property, reminding pet owners that 1) their pets need to be on a leash and 2) the owners were responsible for cleaning up after their pets. If that’s a law on the city books, it was flaunted at will on that fine morning.
My bladder had not quite emptied itself, so on the second lap, near the southernmost spur, I had to make No.1 again. Unfortunately, the trail itself had no available restrooms, so I had to make do and hope nobody saw me. Ironic, how this course had doggie-doo bags for the pets, but not even a Portajohn for the humans?
On the last spur before finishing the second and final lap, I came upon a residence with two large dogs. They were fenced in, but they could jump. Fortunately, they didn’t have enough “hops” to clear the fence, but if their owners kept feeding them well, and the dogs kept practicing…who knows?
Huffaker Park Lookout Trail was a good time, although the lack of restroom facilities and my lack of land-nav skills made the day more of a hassle than necessary. The view from the “mountain” was breathtaking, and the trail had enough of a challenge where a runner could get a good workout.
P.S.: Reno has two facilities named Huffaker Park; the location with the trail is the smaller of the two.
Paradise Park Trail:
I got off the bus at the right spot, but the walk to Teglia’s Paradise Park was a lot longer than it needed to be. Then there was the matter of finding a good place to start the loop.
The Paradise Park Trail has a loop that encompasses the four ponds on the property. However, the back half of the loop (near the northeast corner) isn’t fully formed, so you kind of try to guess where the trail should be. Trying to run a complete circuit around the park took me a couple of tries.
Not to rag on the Reno Park District, but when I ran at Paradise park, it could have used a damn good police call. There was trash scattered at a couple of the picnic areas; the ponds with the greatest concentration of the local duck and goose population had lots of bird droppings on the trail. I hope that somebody goes around the park with a good power washer during normal operating hours.
Aside from the trail, another plus was a lot of exercise platforms and benches scattered around the trail, in a circuit course pattern. They were for mostly doing pushups, crunches, sit-ups and pull-ups. I had a workout at the hotel gym scheduled, so I bypassed on the fitness stuff. There were also restrooms and Portajohns on the property.
If I had to rank all the trails that I ran in Reno, Paradise Park would have to finish last. I got a good workout, but the lack of a defined trail and the need for a cleanup took away from the experience.
P.S.: The bus ride back to the hotel was the most crowded bus I was on all week.
Virginia Lake Loop:
Everything about the Friday run was so easy. The bus trip took me right where I needed to be, just a short walk to the park. The loop was a mile-long paved trail with only one slight rise near the southern tip of the trail. There was a restroom facility on site (KNOCK. FIRST.). Good weather as the day began and lots of friendly people on the course. However, the leash laws were ignored once again.
Speaking of the animals, Virginia Lake is also home to more ducks and geese; they mostly populate the western side of the trail. Once again, where the fowl abide, their droppings come with them. Yet another area that could use a power washer.
The run was as simple as I gets: four laps in 56”. This was a nice way to cap off the vacation, and I did some pretty good running this week.
In the end…
I got a lot of good roadwork done in Reno, even though the Reno cuisine busted my diet for the week. The Reno transit system took only two trips for me to get comfortable with it, and it was much cheaper than taxis or renting a car for the week. The South Meadow Trail System taught me about communicating with the bus driver and properly using maps. Huffaker Park was a better trail course (mostly gravel) than I expected, and I got some great scenery as well as a good push on the hills. Paradise Park needs some TLC from the Park District, and maybe repaving the path near the back corner. Virginia Lake was a course set up for a nice, brisk set of laps.
I’m not sure if there’s a Reno trip in my future, but if I do come back, maybe I’ll try the South Meadows System one more time…
What does Peter Gabriel have to do with Reno, NV or running? Nothing, except that’s what I’m playing on YouTube right now:
His album with the melting face was the first album I had ever played back to front. So many good songs; this was a great song. Damn good “box of chocolates!”