What started out as a simple training run, turned into a love affair with an epic challenge.
On Saturday, I decided to go on a run while my oldest daughters and wife were at the movies. Since, I had my youngest with me, I had to pick someplace to run that the jogging stroller could easily manuever in, which is why I decided to run the Katy Trail. Although, the Katy Trail is going to be Team VRC’s first #findyourimpossible challenge, the Katy Trail hasn’t always been my first go to run location since moving to St. Louis. Its not that I thought it was bad, it’s just there is so many other places in the area that for lack of better terms have often been better.
The Katy Trail is home to the longest rails to trails project and was once home to the Missouri, Kansas, Texas Railroad. So, even though the Katy Trail is considered a Trail, I wouldn’t consider it trail running in the purest sense. It’s flat, wide and is made of compacted rock, giving it almost a concrete feel, a far cry from the lose dirt and stumps that you find among most trails in the St. Louis area.
However, what the Katy gives up in way of challenge, it makes up for it with its unlimited possibilities for running…..in fact 240 miles worth of possibilities!
So, when I arrived at the trail head in Weldon Springs, I only had to make one decision, head east toward St. Charles or west towards Defiance, in which I choose the later. I quickly set off at a modest 10 minute per mile pace and was immediately struck by the fall beauty on the trail, with the Missouri river down below, and rock bluffs above, each lined with color changing trees. Although I wasn’t the only one on the trail, other users, mostly bikers, were few and at times I felt as though Julianna and I were modern day versions of Lewis and Clark exploring uncharted lands with our jogging stroller being our canoe carrying our necessities.
About 2 miles into the run, I was snapped back into reality with the sound of live music, which I quickly wondered where it was coming from. No matter where you run, coming across live music mid run is not something I am used to encountering. What I quickly released, was that I was approaching the town of Defiance, MO which was alive with people and fun. Along the Katy Trail in Definace is restaurants, bars, wine tasting rooms and antique shops. The thing I loved about the environment was that many of the people out enjoying the town had biked there along the Katy Trail. Had, I not been under a time schedule, I think I may have too, decided to grab a beer, sit on the patio and enjoy both the live music and the view.
After leaving Defiance, I quickly found myself back in the times of early explorers, now moving away from the river and into farm fields.
The next few miles flew by as the trail continued through wooded areas and farm fields, with the occasional view of the Missouri river, which obviously assists in making the area so green and bountiful with vegetation. As I hit 5 miles I turned the stroller and Julianna and I started heading home on the same route we had just come from. Normally an out and back are far less entertaining than a circular route, however, heading the opposite direction seemed to be an entirely new trail with new views to enjoy. Entering Defiance, I was greeted with waves this time from the revelers whom I had just passed 25 minutes prior, though I am guessing with an additional one or two adult beverages in that time. The remaining few miles flew by and I arrived back at the car, just as my wife was calling to tell me that they were out of the movie.
As I left the trail head, I couldn’t help but to reflect on how truly blessed I am to be able to live and run in the area I do. It also made me excited for the challenge that we will be undertaking in March as I can’t wait to see the remaining 232 miles of the trail and the small towns that we will get to see and run through, maybe even being able to stop in Defiance for a beer before heading to the finish line!