Back in September—shortly after Fort Collins had been designated a Runner Friendly Community by the Road Runners Club of America—the Fort Collins Running Club announced an event called the FCRC Fall Run-off. It challenged members to run every urban trail in town—all 36 miles of them.
This sounded like a great idea to me, not only as a means to explore other regions of the city but also as an interesting way to train for the upcoming Cache La Poudre and New York City marathons. So even though the FCRC encouraged people to form teams to take on the challenge, I participated as a team of one.
Ultimately it took me a week (in which I ran on five days) to complete the run-off. Here is an Excel spreadsheet of my mileages, with Strava data.
It was a great way to put in the miles while minimizing exposure to car traffic. Citizens of Fort Collins are really lucky to have this system of urban trails; almost every resident lives within a mile or two from a paved recreational path.
Of course, there are also many other trails in town not under the jurisdiction of the city and were not included in this challenge, such as those maintained by Home Owners Associations. For example, in my neighborhood alone there is a ten-foot-wide, 0.75-mile gravel recreation trail that runs by a pond and nature preserve, connects to an infrequently traveled dirt road, and is only five homes away from my house. There are also many dirt paths (e.g., singletrack) in or around Fort Collins that probably outnumber official paved ones.
But for those who are interested in running every city-owned urban trail, here are some tips below.
- Study the Urban Trail Map in the Resources section below and strategize before embarking on this challenge.
- There are several trails that could be run in tandem. For example, the Poudre Trail connects to the Spring Creek Trail. On the first day of the Fall Run-off, I ran both of these, completing half (18 miles) of the urban trail ssytem already.
- The Trail Distances webpage noted in the Resources section has a section called “Main Spur Trail” that lists “Major spur trails to the main trail.” There is no trail named the “Main Spur;” instead, this refers to offshoots or “branches” (spurs) off a primary trail (e.g., the Poudre Trail, Spring Creek Trail, etc.) It is best to run all these spurs when you are running the primary trail. Otherwise, if you don’t, you will have to spend a lot of time driving or riding your bike back to them later. I know because I realized what the “main spurs” were after running the Poudre and Spring Creek trails and had to go back to them.
- One way to avoid doubling back on some of the longer trails is to leave a bicycle at one end and a car at the other. I did this for several trails using my Huffy Cranbrook and Chrysler PT Cruiser.
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The pictures below were taken with a Microsoft Lumia 640 XL Windows phone.