Three-Mile Run: You Dared, I Compared

In late April I dared readers to nominate their favorite three-mile run for me to compare against mine. Several people took me up on it, including some who responded on the Official Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race Fan Page.

Some of the nominees are pretty popular with runners, like trails along the Chattahoochee River off Columns Drive, or along Lake Spivey. Several people suggested runs around Candler Park, which is a short drive for me.
But I picked a route on the edge of downtown Decatur, nominated by Karen Rose. I lived in Decatur in the 1990s, so I’m familiar with the area. The city has pleasant scenery and lots of sidewalks.
As Karen suggested, I started at the Decatur Cemetery. The run featured some good, long hills, sidewalks the entire way and minimal street crossing conflicts. Two things that would have been better: A less steep climb at the end and a finish line that isn’t at a cemetery. I’m at a certain age when completing a run at the gates of a cemetery feels like I’m just asking for it.

I’ve recently bumped up my familiar two-mile neighborhood run to three miles. After running three miles in Decatur Saturday, I did a brisk four-mile walk Sunday from my home in Ansley Park to scout a longer course.
I’m glad I walked it before I tried running it the first time. A map of Ansley looks like a plate of spaghetti. My course was confusing and had long stretches without sidewalks.
I really liked the nearly unbroken stretch of sidewalk in Karen’s run. So I’m looking for a course where I can cut down on my conflicts with people on wheels, whether they’re in cars, on bikes or on skates. I was surprised to find a potential solution hidden in plain sight.
In coming weeks, when I run four miles, I will run on the sidewalk along Piedmont Avenue for a quarter mile from my front steps to the 14th Street Piedmont Park entrance, and then run the park’s 1.68-mile loop twice and head back home. If things work out I won’t be as annoyed by cars as I am some mornings running across intersections in my neighborhood.
Thanks, Karen, for reminding me that there is a lot to be said for long stretches of sidewalk. I can feel my blood pressure returning to normal.
I’m looking for other new-to-me runs to try in May. Please tell me about your favorite three- or four-mile course. I’ll pick one and review it next month.

One comment Add your comment


May 12th, 2010
8:21 pm

Okay, this is it, Roswell Area Park off Woodstock Rd. It is a beautiful, shady park with a mostly dirt trail, mile markers, and a few rolling hills to give your run a little challenge. The main loop is 3.1 miles and it is a very scenic path which even includes a duck pond. Because of the shade it is always several degrees cooler than anywhere else I can run and the dirt trails are much kinder to the legs than concrete sidewalks. I’ve been running in the Roswell/Marietta area for 15 years and this is my hands down favorite place to run. It has got to be one of the best 3 mile runs in the Atlanta area.