Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I spent all of last week on Block Island enjoying a vacation. Since it was a vacation, I spent a good chunk of it relaxing and drinking too many beers, so I didn’t lace on the shoes as much as I should have. In fact, most of my runs were just quick .9 mile jaunts to and from the beach for sunset swims. However, I did get out for two nice runs that I’d like to share with you.
My first big run was an attempt at running the island trails. Since a surprisingly large portion of Block Island is conservation land – part of the reason why it’s so damned beautiful – there are a lot of walking/running paths called the "Greenway." Frank and I both found this running challenging: the middle of the island consists of rolling hills, so the running was up and down and side to side - like running through a skateboarding park. It felt isolated – and at times it was – but since BI is only 10 square miles, we were continually surprised the sight of a house or road through a narrow gap of foliage on the side of the trail. Overall, it was fun, and I’d do it again, except for my major complaint: these trails were NOT well marked. Frank had even sprung for the official trail map, but not even that prevented us from getting lost THREE times, and eventually we were forced to make our way over to the airport rather than on the southern part of the island as we had hoped. For that reason alone, I really can’t recommend this run.
But most people go to BI for the beach, and IMO outside of actually running on the beach (and Crescent Beach is the best beach running on the island, as long as you do it early or late in the day), your best bet is to run up and down Corn Neck Road. This road goes from Old Harbor – the only town on the island – all the way up to the island’s northern point. Not only do you start with the incredible view of Crescent Beach curving in and away from you, but you also get to see the “true” BI once you get away from the crowded part of the southern island. Small rolling hills – nothing like what’s in Ashland! – take you into farmland and mansion country, where bucolic scenes meet your every foot strike. Sounds cheesy but it isn’t: the entire journey is a feast for your eyes. After about 3 miles, you start to see the ocean on either side of you as the road curves around Sashem Pond and ends a half-mile before the dramatically isolated North Lighthouse. The beach run to the lighthouse and the peak of the island is a bit rocky but well worth the trip as you get to stand on a narrow spit of land and watch the rip tide. There and back was a mellow 8 mile loop, and I loved every minute of it. I hope to run it again sometime.