The best part about running inside Stanford campus was the aspect of stumbling across unexpected trails and beautiful routes. I landed here couple of weeks ago and was told that this city was a haven for outdoor activities.
Being a runner, the first thing I noticed about the place was the number of runners of varied age groups, who would be running throughout the day, even at 2 pm in the afternoon when the sun would be blazing – something that was unthinkable in India. It was hot alright considering it was peak summer sans the infamous humidity that I face back in my home country.
The Campus drive loop I went out for my first run inside campus. Serra street as it is called leads straight to some fountains, a beautiful garden to the right and a tall tower clock to the left. It was a 2 km loop and I ended up going up and down 5 times covering about 10 k. A little deviation from one of the side lanes here led to some short trails with trees and shrubs. Further down was a road with palm trees on either side and trails in plenty.
Stumbling upon an unexpected trail: The next day I decided to explore a new route. I took a right from Serra straight and went on to the main road from where I took a right from Starbucks cafe. This was the adjacent street and called Stanford avenue.
The city had separate lanes for cyclists and runners. One could cycle or run without any stress about getting hit by a speeding vehicle. The best part was the fact that cars would voluntarily stop on seeing runners and cyclists. It sort of felt like a red carpet welcome as we would cruise past them, of course, not without pausing to give that nod or a slight wave of acknowledgment.
Stanford avenue was adorned with dainty cottages with pretty little gardens on the porches. Quaint and tidy, the vision was a treat to the eyes as I went straight ahead. All on a sudden, I noticed a small pathway on the side of the main road. To my delight, I discovered that it was a trail.
Dried leaves were strewn about on both sides with tall trees that provided the shade from the harsh summer sun. The pathway coiled like a snake as it turned into a small bridge from where there was a slight incline. I ran ahead basking in the beauty of the place. I enjoyed the stillness of the woods which reminded me of the woods that I had read about in Grimm Brothers fairy tales. A sudden sound of the leaves rustling prompted me to turn around wondering what caused the noise. After a short game of hide and seek I finally realized it was a bushy tailed brown squirrel trying to make its presence felt and catch the attention of the runners.
Amused at the little encounter, I went ahead. The trail was barely a km and it soon turned upwards leading to the main road. Just a few meters away, I found a zebra crossing which led to yet another beautiful trail- popularly known as the dish area.
A dish without the spoon The dish was a grueling hilly terrain. Blades of dried grass adorned both sides as the roads tilted up to a deadly incline. It was a vast area with multiple entries and haunted by hikers, walkers and runners. Considering the deadly inclines with practically no shade, running here in the afternoons would be considered as self inflicting torture but that’s probably what makes runners a strong lot.
Being vast and wide spread, the dish area had a few entry gates and was located right behind Stanford campus. Ascending the slopes was worth it as I got a magnificent view of the city and the ocean in the horizon.
When I finished my run, I was tired but a satisfied soul. The runner in me always looks to enjoy my experience in a new place and explore new routes. This is just the beginning,I thought as I looked forward to some upcoming events which promised to showcase some visual treats and breathtaking trails for the next one year.