One of the many things I want to accomplish with this blog is to spotlight a different part of Delaware in regards to running routes. It's a small state with not much space on the road for recreational use, so I'm gong to try and show you the safest, most scenic and efficient routes while not risking getting hit by a DART bus. I also like to wear headphones, so I tend to stay far from busy streets and traffic. Today I'm going to talk about the Brandywine Park & Rockford Park area since it's in the city, a mix of shade and sunny areas, with nice wide sidewalks and paths away from the street with plenty of great stuff to see along the way. If you're lucky enough to in or near this area (I grew up right near the zoo, so this was where I first started logging miles) you can access it easily and are already aware of the beauty and charm and pedestrian friendly aspects.
As for me, my usual routine would usually consist of a nice 5-10 warm-up coming through the neighborhood down towards 18th & Broom St., near the athletic fields. I enter the park near the playground between the baseball fields, make my way down towards the river, and go left towards the zoo and begin what I called the Figure 8 loop. I would run east down Park Dr. to Market St., cross the bridge & run up the other side of the river past Wilmington Hospital to Van Buren St. bridge & then cross to the other side and continue west towards the Swinging bridge (the footbridge). If you're lucky like me, then maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the local wildlife in the form of the Great Blue Herons that nest along the river.
I would then follow the path up the hill, underneath the traffic bridges towards Wawaset St., then continuing past the large beautiful homes of Kentmere Parkway. After passing the Delaware Art Museum and then entering Rockford Park at Riverview Ave. and Red Oak Rd., I would pass the dog park and head into the woods towards Rockford Tower. I would stay on the road until reaching the Tower, where since it has a bathroom, water fountain and plenty of grass to rest on, when I would take a breather to regain my strength and bust in to the homestretch. The great part about this run is that it is a nice gentle and rolling terrain with a gradual uphill leading into Rockford. After you go around the Tower and go back out the way you came, it's a nice gradual downhill that helps to push you towards the finish. Also if you're lucky enough to be in the park on a day in the warm months when the Tower is open, it is free and definitely worth it to head up the 100 or so steps and see one of the best views in the city. It is still a working water tower for the surrounding neighborhoods so it makes sense that it was built on the highest point in the city.
Altogether, the run is about 5.5 miles, but if you'd like to shorten it, you can just do the river loop for about 2.5 miles or you can lengthen it by heading out he back entrance to the park towards Pennsylvania Ave. and turn northwest past Tower Hill. This route follows the same course as the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon, so it would be an ideal training route if you're planning on doing the race. Here is a link to a map of the Park.
Feel free to comment or drop me a line with any thoughts or favorite runs of yours in the area. Next time I'm going to talk about my favorite off road trail, the Woodlawn Trustees Preserve in North Wilmington.
Until then, goodnight and good running.