Thursday, February 22, 2024

Plenty of jogging trails, races at MSU

June 9, 2005
Runners brave a cold rain and snow mix during a 5K run/walk at Lansing's Hawk Island County Park. —

Don't forget to unpack your running shoes as the fall months bring cool temperatures and colorful scenery to East Lansing.

Before all you high school cross-country runners go into retirement and others wanting to shed off the "freshman 15" get caught in indoor gyms, discover the running world of Mid-Michigan.

Running here is fresh, as routes pass through nature's simplest elements in a city that's full of life and loaded with resources.

If you listen closely on a sunny fall afternoon, you might hear the MSU fight song echoing throughout campus. Follow the sound to Jenison Field House, where the Spartan Marching Band is practicing outside, then bear west along the Red Cedar River until the state Capitol pops into sight.

Want some variety? Venture south and soon you'll be running alongside sheep, pigs and horses. Head north and you're into neighborhoods deemed "historic" by the city.

Running on campus won't cause claustrophobic fears, because America's pioneer land-grant college spreads across 5,192 acres of farmland, historic buildings and downtown businesses.

Step it up

On fall afternoons, you might find the gates open to Spartan Stadium. Running up the steps provides an intense workout with a payoff: Gaze from high seats and feel history echo up from the bowl below. Navigate through the construction areas and a newly laid track and turf field appears just south of the stadium.

For students, running on campus offers sidewalks bustling with friendly peers and trails to quiet spots such as the Sanford Natural Area and Baker Woodlot for your trail-running needs.

Feast your senses on music of the bells from the Beaumont Tower or the flowers in Beal Botanical Gardens.

While the band plays outside Jenison, inside is where Magic Johnson led the '79 Spartans basketball team to an NCAA crown. The cagers now play in Breslin Center, but Jenison maintains its mystique and aura and features an indoor track around the old court.

Farther afield

Want to head toward Lansing? The River Trail, which starts near Breslin Center, twists and turns alongside the Red Cedar River for eight-plus miles.

Its paved surface is marked every 400 meters by wooden posts. The path winds past Potter Park Zoo and the Brenke Fish Ladder, where a neat waterfall descends. Exit at Michigan Avenue, and the Capitol, lit at night, stands in view.

Dirt-trail networks can be enjoyed at Lake Lansing Park, located on Marsh Road at West Lake Drive, and at Abbott Road Park, off Lake Lansing and Abbott roads.

The Mid-Michigan Track Club sets the pace for the running community, meeting year-round at tracks, parks and cemeteries.

Need a place to run during long and snowy winter months? The MSU grounds crew does a speedy job clearing sidewalks for morning classes.

And to feel the turf beneath your feet, make a beeline for Forest Akers Golf Course, where the Spartan Invitational tests cross-country teams each fall.

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