One of my favorite parts of Runner’s World magazine is the Rave Run. It’s a small spread, no more than two pages in the print edition, but it always makes me want to put on my sneaks and go out for a run, even if I can't have the same backdrop as the one in the magazine. Then, one of my running buds posted this on Facebook the other day.
Trail Porn might be my new favorite website, though I find it difficult to spend much time on the site before I become jealous of all the people who got to soak in those views. I want my own trail porn, my own rave run. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. I’ve spent this past week in North Dakota, in Fargo, where I lived for several years, and Bismarck, where I grew up. I haven’t lived in my hometown for about ten years. Whenever I go back, I stay with one of my aunts (note: my parents haven’t lived in my hometown in about twelve years). My aunt lives a bit northeast of town, just outside the city limits. Which meant back country road running, though I don’t know that any tried and true North Dakotans would have considered my route “country.” Bismarck is, after all, the second largest city in the state.
Normally when I run in Bismarck, I make a loop from my grandma’s house. She lives in a typical suburban-type neighborhood not too far from a bike path. But I run through neighborhoods all the time in Boston, so while I was in Bismarck, I felt the pull of the land around my aunt's house. On Sunday morning, I took off down my aunt’s driveway and turned left, pointing myself east and away from Bismarck.
It truly was a rave run. The snowy gravel road inclined slightly, taking me past the familiar houses of my aunt’s neighbors on one side and a suburban housing development on the right. By a half mile in, I left behind the houses completely and found myself surrounded by farmland. The morning sun bathed a thick band of glossy snow, hard enough to run on top of without sinking. Snowmobile tracks descended into the field in front of me. I wanted to follow them, but thought it best to obey the small "no trespassing" sign. I hung a right and was met with the familiar and slightly nostalgic smell of cow manure. To my right, was a small cluster of auburn cattle, and next to them were a few horses. Few of the cattle noticed me, but the horses turned their heads, their ears pointed forward with curiosity. I waved at them and kept going.
Every time I make a trip to North Dakota, I’m reminded that the sky really is bigger out there. Maybe it’s because I don’t see it all the time anymore, or maybe I’ve finally had enough distance from it to really appreciate it, but I fall in love with the landscape each time. In the winter, it’s all shades of white and blue. A bright blue sky with strokes of wispy clouds. My running shoes crunching on the packed snow, led by my elongated blue shadow. In a way, it reminded me of the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire and the picturesque views there. I thought that New Balance might consider hosting a relay race through the back roads and small towns of North Dakota.
The photos below aren’t of my run. Sorry. Some images are better left imprinted on the mind. But much of the North Dakota landscape is the same: farm, farm, farm, small lake, farm. So below is a small sample of the landscape.