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Friday, April 23, 2010 09:15 am

Run it before they Ruin it

Any avid runner knows the joys of a road without cars. Though you only need about four feet of personal space, it’s a wonderful feeling to have an open road before you and no metal beasts whizzing by with seemingly total disregard for your safety. It’s the difference between feeling like you have the whole world to yourself and feeling like you’re being stalked by a thousand huge steel cats who quickly lose interest when they realize how little fun it is to catch you.

Even better than an empty road is a brand-new road that hasn’t been opened yet. The MacArthur Extension is a perfect example. I’ve run it twice this week, and though I’ll be excited to use it when it finally opens April 30, I’ll be disappointed when it becomes well-traveled by cars and likely too dangerous to run. I ran it Monday before dusk, when a few workers were still hanging about, apparently to time the stop lights. They gave a friendly nod and wave when I passed, so I assume they didn’t mind my presence, along with the handful of cyclists and a walker or two. My roommate Kevin and I ran it again last night, just after dusk, and it had an eerily beautiful quality that you only find by observing vast developed spaces of concrete and steel completely devoid of human life. It evokes thoughts of a post-apocalyptic world or a zombie film.

From the intersection of South MacArthur Boulevard and West North Street to the top of the overpass deck is just over 1.5 miles, give or take a tenth. Doing that distance back and forth should give you a pretty decent 5K run. (That’s according to my wrist pedometer, which may be slightly off.) It is completely flat for most of the way, until you reach the overpass bridge, where you’ll find a long and steady incline of perhaps two percent. (That’s just a wild guess. It may be way off.) If you’re running only the length of the extension, the hill shouldn’t be a concern at all. When I’ve run it, I’ve already done about 2.25 miles just to arrive at the start, and even after tacking on the extension, it wasn’t too awfully challenging. Anyone who knows the Lincoln half marathon route will be relieved to know the overpass isn’t even remotely as steep as any of the big hills on that route.

It should go without saying, but in case you decide to run the extension, don’t touch any equipment left at the site, NEVER throw anything off of the overpass on to the highway, and please respect the environment by not littering. We as runners have a duty to represent our ilk in a positive way, and we have a special connection with the environment because of our proximity to it, so let’s be sure and honor those obligations. Also, be sure and give a friendly wave to your fellow runners, cyclists and walkers. This world could use a little more cordiality.

Hope to see some of you out there!

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