Thursday, October 10, 2013

Running in the Big Easy

My wife and I decided to take one last grand trip before having to deal with the logistics of traveling with kids. After some debate, we settled on New Orleans. As with every place I visit, I sat down the night before and researched some running routes. There were two promising areas to run from in French Quarter: the levy along the river and St. Charles Street.

Ran my Chevy to the Levy

Alita on the Levy at Woldenburg Park
One suggestion was to run along the levies of the Mississippi. I rather like running along rivers and so I headed south towards the big muddy for my first morning run. I hit the river at Woldenburg Park and turned upriver.

The path along the river petered out after about a mile as it hit industrial facilities. This often seems to happen when I research running routes. I find that a lot of the suggestions are for people looking to run a mile (maybe two) but if you are looking to run more than four you often to have to be more creative. I continued upriver by sticking to the roads that stayed close to the river. I went past storage facilities and less impressive looking businesses. Eventually I reached a Walmat near the Clarence Henry Truckway which marked three miles on my watch and headed back.

New Orleans Jogging Tours

My wife, being rather awesome, found a website that offered jogging tours of New Orleans. In a bout of good luck, our trip coincided with a Groupon which reduced the price from $30 to $15. For some reason, the idea of a jogging tour had never occurred to me although it is fairly easy to see how such a tour would be a great way to see a city (incidentally, I looked it up and there are such tours of Boulder – too bad, this would have been a great business to start).

The tour is a one-man operation, run by a guy named Marcus. At the time of the blog, it was, according to Trip Advisor, the numberone activity to do in New Orleans. While I do not think it is quite the number one thing to do in New Orleans, it is a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it.

Marcus offers two tours times, 6 am and 9 am. While 9 am would have had more light, I went with the earlier tour so as not to disrupt the vacation time with Alita. We started off at the US Mint on the corner or Decatur and Barracks St. We went eventually found ourselves running down Bourbon Street as Marcus narrated the history of the French Quarter with me.

New Orleans Jogging Tour Route

 The dawn’s first light was coming out as we made it to Lee Circle. As always, Bobbie Lee was facing north so as never to turn his backs on the Yankees. This one snuck by just fine as we ran along to the St. Charles Streetcar line.

Eventually we left the streetcar line and turned south onto Washington Street. Marcus gave me a quick tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and then took me through the homes of the rich and famous in the Garden District. We got to see the homes of Archie Manning (first quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, father of Payton and Eli), Sandra Bullock, Jefferson Davis (well, the former home) and the former home of Anne Rice.

Jogging past Archie Manning's House in the Garden District
We finished by going back along Magazine Street. Marcus and I crossed Canal Street, re-entered the French Quarter and parted ways.

Marcus and me at the end of the run
St. Charles Street

For the remainder of our time in New Orleans I did a modified version of the route I did with Marcus. I would run west along Royal Street and across Canal where it becomes St. Charles St.

St. Charles Streetcar Route from the French Quarter
 St. Charles Street is a sort of single-track trail in the middle of the city. I say sort-of because the dirt path is the St. Charles Streetcar line. You run on the left track and jump over to the other one when a car comes towards you on the track. This is not nearly as dangerous as it might at first sound. The cars travel slowly – it often took four or five blocks for a car that I heard behind me to pass me.

St. Charles Streetcar Line
I generally out for a certain distance (around three miles) and came back along the streetcar line. When I got to Lee Circle I would go back along Magazine Street for a change of scenary.
Audubon and City Park

Audubon Park
Although I did not run in Audubon Park, Alita and I did take a nice stroll around the park. The perimeter is probably around 1.5 miles and is tree-lined for much of that stretch. I would also imagine that city park would be pleasant.

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