Riding to Mt. Elliott Park


Yesterday’s regular 7 AM Saturday morning group run had a special start location: Mt. Elliott Park on the Detroit RiverWalk.

It was a chilly 32F at the 5:55 AM when I hopped on the bike and started heading south. At that hour with minimal road traffic, I just jumped on Woodward.

The route was simple: Woodward to State Fair (7.5 mile) to Conant, which turns into Mt. Elliott. It was just 16 miles and about an hour of biking.

The highlights along the route included going past Theatre Bizarre, Bangladeshi Avenue, and the Heidelberg Project.

Just north of the Heidelberg and just as the sun was about to rise, I heard a rooster crowing.

Once at the park, I locked my fixie to a bench in clear view of the RiverWalk security cameras.

We had a relatively large group of runners. Our route was to Joe Louis and back then a loop around Belle Isle. The highlight of the run was a stunning sunrise over the river.

Hanson Group Runs

Hanson's RunningRunners in the Royal Oak-area are lucky. While we don’t have the mountains and trails, we do have the weekly Hanson group run.

What moves this run ahead of the others is it attracts runners of all speeds and it’s year-round on every Thursday. And it’s been this way for about a decade or so. It’s just a dependable way to get a good run in, whether it’s 4, 6, or 8 miles.

The run starts on Thursdays at 6:30pm from their store at 3407 Rochester Road, just north of 13 Mile. There are other Hanson group runs in the Detroit-area as well.

I used to bike to the shop to start my runs. It’s a bit of a pain because I can’t always ride the 2.5 miles in my running gear, so I’d have to change. Still, the ride home offered a nice cool down. Now I’m running from my house to the 2 mile mark to join the group in route. That eliminates the need to drive and gives me an additional 2-2.5 mile run home.

Of course the run is free and the store provides water at the end. You can pay them back by buying all your running shoes at the shop. The Hansons do a whole lot more for running in Metro Detroit than these groups runs, including the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project.

It always feels good to give them the support in return.

Our Big Winter Run up Woodward

Runners in front of the Spirit of DetroitTime to put another check on the bucket list. On Saturday a group of us ran from the Detroit River to Royal Oak/Birmingham.

The day began with a 5 AM alarm, about a hour before my furnace setback ends. The house was cold. I quickly checked the Weather Underground. It was much colder outside: 20F with a north wind pushing the wind chill down to 14F. Fully dressed in running gear with a couple gels and a $1.50 in fare, I ran about a mile to the bus stop on Woodward.

I’ve looked at taking the bus in the past, but figuring out the SMART schedules wasn’t as convenient as getting Google driving directions. Now Google has a public transit option for Detroit. I was able to enter my starting and ending location then my desired arrival time. Google then told me where to get the bus and what time to be there.

John Sotir and I grabbed the bus and were joined by Jon Bennett just one stop away. The bus was just about full by 6:30 AM — on a Saturday no less. We were the only ones wearing lycra.

We got off at Jefferson and met up with the others that had taken an earlier bus or the Marielle Shuttle Service. There was 13 of us in total. Marielle snapped a group shot in front of the Spirit of Detroit before we started heading up the Avenue.

Group run up Woodward in DetroitFor many of us, the miles clicked by quickly. I think that was due in part to the density along Woodward. It’s really not that far from Jefferson to Campus Martius to Grand Circus to New Center and so on. It’s a contrast to running in lower-density places like Bloomfield Hills where the houses and streets are widely spaced.

We also seemed to get a good bit of encouragement from others along the route, including some guy walking out of a Highland Park party store with a cigarette in one hand and a fresh 40 in the other.

Fortunately for us, it seemed the north wind took a break at least until we crossed into Royal Oak. Still, there was enough breeze to push the heavy smell of Dutch Girl Donuts directly into our path.

We got our hill workout going up and over the Eight Mile bridge though most passed on running under I-696.

Due to the better conditions (less ice and snow) and lower vehicle traffic, we ran in the street. Unfortunately once into Royal Oak, we stuck to the often snowy and icy sidewalks.

While some ran to their cars at the bus stops, I ran directly home. The main group continued into Birmingham where we all regrouped for a well-earned breakfast and hot chocolates.

The best guess was the Birmingham guys got in 18.5 miles. I was closer to 16.

Big thanks to the Wehrm for pulling this together as well as the aid station at 11 Mile. And, thanks to Marielle for the cool photos.

I have a suspicion we’ll be doing this again.

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