There’s no place like your home parkrun. But with more and more events appearing across the US, your barcode is your ticket to a warm welcome from parkrun communities throughout the country. Consider including “parkrun tourism” in your summer travels this year.
Some of our events are close to obvious attractions involving monuments, bridges, or a certain mouse. But here we highlight some things to combine with parkrun in destinations that you might otherwise breeze past on a cross-country road trip.
Mansfield, OH sits mid-way between Columbus and Cleveland, and is an easy stop on a cross-country road trip.
Mansfield OH parkrun meets under a huge gazebo at North Lake Park and then follows an out-and-back route along the B&O Railroad Trail. It’s smooth and shaded, imperceptibly rises in the first half, and then perceptibly drops in the second half, making it a perfect venue for a PB.
You will be sure to receive a warm welcome from the Mansfield parkrun community. After the run you can refuel with outstanding coffee and pastries at Relax, It’s Just Coffee in Mansfield’s regenerating downtown. Then kids of all ages can enjoy a $1 ride at Richland Carrousel Park, a hand-carved carrousel that exudes 1930s charm. The Mansfield parkrun team highly recommends a visit to the Ohio State Reformatory, a historic castle-like correctional institution that has featured in many Hollywood movies, including The Shawshank Redemption. A little further afield, you could take in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, or check out COSI in Columbus, one of the top science museums in the country.
A Saturday morning visit to Sewanee, TN adds one of the coolest event names to your parkrun profile, with a visit to Mountain Goat Trail parkrun. Don’t worry, the parkrun route is on a flat stretch of the former railroad in the South Tennessee mountains. Just off I-24 and about an hour from Chattanooga, this parkrun is a good stop on north-south or east-west roadtrips.
After a post-parkrun coffee at the very cool Mountain Goat Cafe in nearby Monteagle, you could take a stroll around the University of the South in Sewanee, one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, where the castle-like buildings will make kids feel like they’re visiting Hogwarts. In the surrounding area you are spoiled for choice with hikes, creeks, and waterfalls. South Cumberland State Park includes temptingly named destinations such as the Fiery Gizzard Trail, rated as one of the top hikes in the country, the Lost Cove, and the Sewanee Natural Bridge. A little further afield, Chattanooga boasts one of the country’s top aquariums, Nashville is a music mecca, and the region is famous for its food and drink.
Ottawa IL is conveniently situated right on I-80, a perfect stop on a 2900-mile drive that starts at Crissy Field parkrun in San Francisco, stops at South Boulder Creek parkrun in Colorado, takes a breather at Heritage Harbor parkrun in Ottawa, IL, pausing at Mansfield, OH parkrun, and then continues to New Jersey, where we’re working on a new parkrun to round out your journey.
Heritage Harbor parkrun takes you on a path around the marina, from which it’s just a few steps to the post-parkrun coffee on the veranda at the Red Dog Grill. After that you can check out Ottawa’s role in the nation’s social history. There’s a memorial to the Radium Dial women, an important early case in workplace safety. And a memorial to the first of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. Imagine this small town filled with an audience of 20,000 to hear the future president debate the abolition of slavery in the United States. Afterwards you can take a short drive along the Illinois River to enjoy the hikes, waterfalls, and bluffs at Starved Rock State Park. The freeway will seem a thousand miles away.
If you start at Leakin Park parkrun in Baltimore you can go direct from the post-parkrun coffee and tater tots at Bullwinkle’s Saloon onto I-70, which is a mere 960 miles and two turns from Moberly parkrun in North Central Missouri. Alternatively, a slight southerly detour on I-64 will take you via Charleston, WV parkrun and Joe Creason parkrun in Louisville, KY.
At Moberly you get to take part in one of the smallest parkrun events, a good chance for a high placing or even a course record. Rothwell Park is expansive with excellent kids’ play areas and an outdoor aquatics center right next to the parkrun start. You could indulge in a taste of the excellent local BBQ, before burning it off in the extensive trail system in nearby Columbia, MO. About an hour away you reach the Mississippi River, where the small town of Hannibal, MO is home to all manner of Mark Twain memorabilia.
Two things to remember
First, your barcode, of course.
Second, check the start time of the event that you’re visiting. Some events switch to an earlier start time in the summer months.
But these events are so welcoming that you can even sneak in a run if you get the start time wrong, as Maryland parkrunner Greg Gorman discovered when he showed up a little late at Mansfield OH parkrun last summer in the middle of a road trip.
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