In December, my sister and I agreed to run a half-marathon this summer. Recently pregnant, it is a goal of recovery for her, and my first half marathon. After researching the numerous half marathons that will be held in Missouri this year, I suggested the Kansas City Hospital Hill half marathon. We both enjoy the shopping and restaurants in Kansas City and the run will take place in the stunning downtown area. The Hospital Hill Run will be on June 7, 2014. One of the oldest half marathons in the country, it was recently named one of the top races in the U.S.A. by Runner’s World magazine. The course shows runners the highlights of Kansas City, such as the Power and Light District, the Sprint Center, the Country Club Plaza Shopping and Dining District, and the World War I Memorial. It wasn’t until later that I was warned that this course also included some punishing hills.
However, our hearts were set on the bright lights of “the Paris of the Plains.” Anything we suffer during the run can be treated with retail therapy in Kansas City afterwards. Besides, Missouri offers plenty of training opportunities for the challenge that is Hospital Hill Run. Below are ten ways I hope to use the trails, events, and even restaurants of Missouri to prepare for my first half marathon.
1. Running locally.
My town, Bethany, has a hilly terrain, making for some stimulating runs. From the gradually rising half mile from Route 69 to interstate 35, to the steep and sudden hills surrounding the downtown square, Bethany is great for practicing hill runs. You can learn more about running events in the area on the Bethany Area Running and Fitness facebook page.
2. Riverview Park in Hannibal.
Visiting my sister in Hannibal provides other opportunities to train. True to its name, Riverview Park offers scenic views of the Mississippi River. It has over three miles of paved road or trails, one of which goes down to the river. Looking through the trees, I always imagine that I can see Tom Sawyer’s raft sailing down the Mississippi. This year, Hannibal Parks and Recreation will be hosting the “Catch Cupid if You Can!” 5K Fun Run in Riverview Park on April 26, 2014, at 10 am. This run benefits “Kids in Motion,” a worthy pre-employment training program for teens and pre-teens. With a Valentine’s Day theme, it offers a registration option for couples, and each female participant receives a flower at the finish line.
3. Crowder State Park.
Last year Missouri was recognized as the “Best Trails State” by American Trails magazine. Part of that distinction is due to Missouri’s beautiful (and beautifully maintained) state parks. Crowder State Park, close to Trenton, is no exception. The park is an oasis of thick forests, and rugged slopes surrounded by open, rolling countryside. Crowder State Park will be hosting a Spring into Spring hike on March 20, 2014, from 4-6 pm.
4. Shine a Light on Autism in Hannibal.
Back to Hannibal for a fitness event especially good for hill training. “Shine a Light on Autism” is a unique fitness challenge. Instead of running a certain distance, the challenge is to climb the 244 steps on the flight of stairs going from Main Street to the lighthouse. And then climb it again, and again, until you either collapse or choose to stop. Funds raised provide special needs children with recreational and educational opportunities. “Shine a Light on Autism” will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
5. Cross Country Rabbit Run, Bethany.
For a little variety, it might be interesting to try cross country running. Typically, cross country running involves racing over natural terrain instead of paved roads or trails. Bethany’s Cross Country Rabbit Run will follow the trail through the park, go around the ball fields, before taking another trail back to the start. The registration fee is only $10, exceptionally cheap for a fun run, and all proceeds go to trail development. Join this race on Friday, April 18 at 6 pm. Look for information on the Rabbit Run on the BARF (Bethany Area Running and Fitness) facebook page. (It’s a regrettable acronym, now that I look at it.)
6. Katy Trail State Park.
Besides the hills, there’s also the little matter of the Hospital Hill Run being 13.1 miles long. For distance training, the Katy Trail State Park would be perfect. With more than 225 miles of paved trail it provides beautiful natural scenery. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the path, so it’s easier to focus on training. Another benefit to the Katy is that you can get on the trail from many access points, so you can see the state’s first capitol in the St. Charles area, or the towering bluffs west of Treloar, or the railroad tunnel in Rocheport.
7. Biking on Highway 79, Hannibal.
Many running enthusiasts recommend cross-training to help prepare for long distance runs. This means taking a break from running once in a while, and switching to some other form of exercise. Taking a bike ride on the newly paved bike path along Route 79 is a great alternative exercise. You still get the exuberance of movement, with the wind blowing in your face going downhill, but it’s also great preparation for climbing hills. (In other words, what goes down must come up.)
8. City Market, Kansas City.
You can stay healthy, and boost your running performance by eating certain foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. All of these foods can be found at the City Market in Kansas City. The City Market is a collection of specialty and culinary shops, and the home of the region’s largest farmers’ market. The farmers’ market is open year round, every Saturday and Sunday.
9. Blue Bird Bistro, Kansas City.
Blue Bird Bistro is a great restaurant to get some healthy food. It offers organic and locally produced ingredients from area farmers. Better yet, it is about a five minute drive from the Crown Center area, where the Hospital Hill Run will start. My sister and I will be coming in the night before, and should we choose to stay in this area, we’ll be paying a visit to Blue Bird Bistro.
10. Preview the course.
Most training programs include a day of rest. It’s good to let your body repair and recharge. On those days, instead of running, visit the Crown Center attractions, and the shops at the Plaza. Both of these areas will be on the course of the Hospital Hill Run, so you can consider it research.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to do everything on this list to prepare for the Hospital Hill Run, but it’s good to know that I have so many options. The Hospital Hill Run also includes a 5K and 10K, and runners of all levels are welcome. For more information on this race, visit their website: http://www.hospitalhillrun.com/.
Written by Sally Anton, supervisor at the Eagleville Official Missouri Welcome Center.