Running intervals in a Richmond cemetery

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I’d planned to check out running trails on a weekend getaway. Instead, I found myself running in an old cemetery …

Bob and I left the kids with my parents at my nephew’s graduation party Saturday night and took off for a semi-impromptu overnight getaway.

My brother Brian, nephew Garrett and sister-in-law Dawn at Garrett's graduation party. An all-state cornerback, he's going to Marian University on a football scholarship.

My brother Brian, nephew Garrett and sister-in-law Dawn at Garrett’s graduation party. An all-state cornerback, he’s going to Marian University on a football scholarship.

We were already in Brownsburg, near Indy, the most obvious destination. But that would’ve been too easy. Suckers for older, smallish, underappreciated towns, we drove through Naptown and headed east until we wound up in Richmond, which saw its best days during the era of the National Road (1830s-1940s). Some of the earliest jazz records were recorded here, beginning in 1917 at Gennett Records, a division of the Starr Piano Company. William Jennings Bryan recorded his “Cross of Gold” speech there, too.

Scanning the Internet Sunday morning for local running path options, I saw several tantalizing possibilities:

Wikimedia.org

Wikimedia.org

The Cardinal Greenway, a paved 60-mile rail-trail from Gas City to Richmond, is part of the 6,000-mile+ American Discovery Trail that runs from coast to coast. That sounds like a lot of fun for a future biking trip, but I wanted something that was more quintessentially Richmond.

The History Trail at the Hayes Arboretum intersects a 1-mile dirt track once known as “the fastest track in the world,” back in the 1890s when it was constructed. (Its designer, Robert Howard, went on to design the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.) That initially sounded like a good bet because I could have fun running while Bob rambled around with his camera. Unfortunately there’d been so much rain overnight we feared the paths would be nothing but mud slicks.

That left the paved greenway along the Whitewater Gorge that cuts through town. But I gotta tell ya, this is one narrow gorge. You pass over these bridges in town and you can’t even see the water, just a bunch of deep, thick foliage. Bob didn’t like the idea of me running alone on such a secluded path through an unfamiliar town, so we wound up at … a cemetery.

The earliest birthdate I spotted in this cemetery was 1804, but I didn't exactly do an exhaustive search during my run.

The earliest birthdate I spotted in this cemetery was 1804, but I didn’t exactly do an exhaustive search during my run.

As history buffs, we’ve had fun in the past sightseeing in old cemeteries. But I was having trouble getting excited about this one because even though it was nice and old, it was pretty small.

“Boy, I’m going to have to run like a million laps,” I grumbled.

But then I remembered that Traci and I’ve been doing interval workouts the last few weeks. I’d been pumped up for a scenic longish run, but this obscure “course” was perfect for mixing up fast laps with slow ones. I’d get done sooner, meaning we wouldn’t have to scramble to get back to the hotel for a shower before checkout time.

And besides, the scenery was pretty interesting. Who would’ve thought that you’d find a Star Trek tombstone in a cemetery where birthdates in the 1800s predominated?

I don’t know exactly how long my “laps” were, nor how fast I ran them. But it felt like a good workout to me.

Given that these folks were born in the 1930s, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess they were fans of the original flavor of "Star Trek."

Given that these folks were born in the 1930s, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they were fans of the original flavor of “Star Trek.”

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