In 2021, like in years before, Daily Arts Writers are stretching out their hammys to participate in a grueling challenge of mental fortitude and physical fitness: the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon. A little pretentious, a little weird, The Michigan Daily team is a mix of seasoned athletes and … less seasoned athletes. For the sake of journalism and prestige, The Daily’s tenacious review-writing gremlins are closing their laptops, tying up their Brooks, and hitting the AA pavement. Read our content & join the race happening on Oct. 24. Interested University of Michigan students can join the marathon with the discount code “Goblue25.”
Between the University of Michigan campus and the city streets, there are dozens of places to run in Ann Arbor. While some people prefer to run through the bustling streets of downtown and others opt for quiet jogs through the Arb, Ann Arbor has a route for every runner. As members of the Daily Arts marathon team put in their final days of training before the big race, they’ve reflected on their favorite running spots in Ann Arbor.
I’ve always loved the Arb. I started walking there for a couple of hours every day during my junior year when I realized that sitting in my room on Zoom all day was taking a toll on both my brain and body. I switched to running a couple of months ago in anticipation of this race, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out a system: Walk down the big stairs to the river; stretch at the benches; turn left and run until you hit the gate; turn around (making sure to give the gate a tap) and run until you hit the railroad tracks; loop around to the right until a gap in the tall grass appears; cut through it, heading straight back toward the river; turn left and run until you reach the benches again; repeat, repeat, repeat. Go at 5 or 6 p.m., when the sun is behind the trees and the weather is cool, but the bugs haven’t come out in full force yet. Apologize to the bird watchers for interrupting their peace as you run past. Avoid the teenage boys on whatever local track team happens to be there. Excitedly point out every chipmunk you see to whoever you’re running with. Look at the river while you run along it and try to spot the heron that sometimes swoops low over the water. Feel the dirt soften your landing. Lay down in the grass, arms spread wide when you’re done. Walk back through your own little patch of forest before you have to face dirty concrete and noxious cars again.
— Brenna Goss, Daily Arts Writer
During my freshman year, I primarily ran around the Arb; my sophomore year, I switched to the Big House; now that I’m in my junior year, I focus on the Burns Park neighborhood. Frankly, I much prefer the route I have now, but if I had to choose between the former two, it would probably have to be the Arb. It is certainly the more scenic route. Part of the reason I can now say I enjoy running is that I get to be outside and experience the natural world. The Arb provides plenty of variety in this department, whether it be the open loop of tall grass, the riverside trail or the spacious hills that wind into evergreen patches. There is never a dearth of opportunity once I pass through either entrance. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure where the outcome always remains the same: rejuvenation.
— Drew Gadbois, Senior Arts Editor
As a college student who’s constantly overwhelmed by work and social interaction, running in the Arb provides the solace I need to recharge amid the craziness of college life. Unlike the bustling streets of Ann Arbor, it’s not uncommon to find solitude in the Arb. Even when I see other people, there’s still an eerie quiet among the people on the trails; it’s as if the Ann Arbor community knows the Arb is a sacred place in a busy city. Of course, it’s impossible to talk about the Arb without mentioning the long hill that stretches from Geddes Street to the Huron River. I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with the Arb hill. While it’s painfully long and pushes my heart rate to its max, it’s also motivated me to become a better, stronger runner. In fact, I’ve dedicated one of my weekly workouts to the Arb hill specifically, as there’s no other spot on campus that requires the same amount of endurance and grit that’s needed to get through a workout there. As I’ve been preparing for the Ann Arbor Marathon, the Arb has been a favorite training spot because I get to admire the changing colors of the leaves and the cool autumn weather during my runs. Once winter arrives, the Arb becomes less desirable for running due to its icy trails, so for now, I’m soaking up every moment I can get running through the winding trails and towering trees.
— Kaitlyn Fox, Music Beat Editor
Maybe it’s because of where I live off-campus, but I love running around Michigan Stadium. It’s got every kind of ground you could hope for: flat straightaways, gentle hills, a few hills on the steeper side. There are even stairs if you want a good challenge; I usually do not, and walk up them instead. Going from the corner of State Street and Hoover Avenue, around the stadium and ending around the corner of Hoover Avenue and Division Street is around 1.75-2 miles — perfect for a running newbie like me. While it doesn’t have the same level of nature as the Arb, it’s got the classically Ann Arbor mixture of trees and pavement that makes for a pleasant run. The thing I like most about this trail is that it gives me the capacity to build up my running distance. The Stadium loop itself offers two miles, but as I keep building my running distance, I can venture off toward westside Ann Arbor or Pioneer High School. Plus, it’s kind of fun to run past the Stadium on non-game days — it’s empty and quiet, just you and your feet.
— Kari Anderson, Senior Arts Editor
I like seeing strangers when I run. Especially at home, I like running around my neighborhood and giving quick little “hellos” or “good mornings” to the people and cars I pass. The interactions are quick but fulfilling. Acknowledging random people on the street, saying hello and getting a smile back is an easy way to feel part of a community. Central Campus can feel like a collegiate bubble and, during exam season, it’s hard to remember that a larger world exists. My typical schedule revolves around campus; with clubs and classes, I mostly interact with professors and other students. I very rarely get to see non-University-affiliated members of the Ann Arbor community. I can count on my fingers how many parents or children I’ve seen on non-game day weekends. Thus, running around the stadium (more so than the Arb) refills my social battery and reminds me that Ann Arbor is much more than a college town composed of overworked students. Ann Arbor is a thriving city: beautiful, friendly and vibrant. And, unlike the Arb, the path to the Stadium is kinder on my ankles.
— Elizabeth Yoon, Managing Arts Editor
Last year, I came back to campus for the winter semester, after staying at home for fall. The streets were filled with snow and ice and the idea of running outside was unappealing, to say the least. As the months got warmer, I became a walker and once I found a route I liked, I slowly morphed into a runner.
I lived around Burns Park and although I liked zig-zagging through pretty houses and quiet streets, I found a route I loved: The stadium. At first I would just circle around the campus landmark, following a route that wasn’t more than 3 miles. As my endurance increased, I explored the residential neighborhood and the hidden parks beyond the stadium. To this day, my favorite spot on campus is Pioneer Woods. After passing through a wooded trail, you reach a clearing full of wildflowers and marsh, with a small duck pond. Part of me thinks I shouldn’t be revealing my favorite Ann Arbor spot for the sake of keeping it intimate and quiet, but I wish I had known about it sooner, so take this as an insider’s tip. And if you do go for this route, forget the music — this route is one to relax with nature.
— Cece Duran, Daily Arts Writer