In high school, I joined the cross country and track and field teams initially in an attempt to find something to do between basketball seasons. I ended up loving running so much that I quit basketball to do winter and spring track. One of my favorite parts of being on the cross country team was the summer captain’s practices that would prepare us for the season. Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. we would drive from Marblehead to Lynn, Massachusetts, to run in the Lynn Woods Races. There is nothing not to like about the Lynn Woods weekly races. They are donation-optional races organized by local runners who set up a new course each week through a large section of woods in the middle of the city. Each race gets a huge turnout of friendly runners ranging from young kids to people much older than me. After each race, people usually stick around to chat and have some of the free post-race snacks, like Gatorade, oatmeal raisin cookies and fruit. Every summer I look forward to running these races, which embody the best aspects of cross country: running through woods and community.
Fortunately, I get to return home each summer during break to continue the tradition of running in these races, but I do miss it while I’m at school. While still in high school I toured Conn and was so fired up about the College’s Arboretum (nicknamed the Arbo). I dreamed of running through it. I was incredibly let down when I saw a sign near the Williams Street entrance stating that running is not permitted in the Arbo in order to preserve the ecological landscape. My dreams of being able to run through the woods seemed shattered. Luckily for me, I learned shortly after that while the west side of the Arbo is off limits to runners, you CAN run in the east side of the Arboretum. The College even has a cross country trail that runs through the east side of the Arbo, located near the Athletic Center. I am so glad that I have the chance to return to the woods, to feel the crunch of twigs under my feet and the smell of the plants and trees while clearing my head. The Arbo has a community of its own. I have seen other Conn students running through it as well as some of the ‘unofficial students of Conn: the deer and squirrels and skunks that are a part of campus life. With 740 acres of arboretum as our campus, the running possibilities are limitless.