Why I Run Forest Park
It’s only 7 a.m. and already the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor Center in Forest Park buzzes with runners. Some congregate over coffee at Forest Perk Café, having already finished their run, while others make a pit stop for a drink of water and a restroom break. Others are heading out for their long run, and on this particular March morning, high school runners (students on the GO!) socialize before their training run for the GO! STL half marathon.
What is it that motivates a person to come out in the early morning hours to run on a cold, gray day? We decided to find out in celebration of #RunForestPark Week.
Why do you #RunForestPark?
“I run in Forest Park because of the atmosphere and because I run with a group of guys that love running out here. When you see other people doing the same thing you’re doing, it makes it more enjoyable.”
“I love Forest Park. I’ve been running here since 1979. It’s changed a lot, but I just love the people. You develop friendships that last forever. We have been running here forever – doesn’t matter the season.”
“I run here for the companionship, the fresh air, and the scenery. I’m retired military, so I spent a lot of my time outside. We ran outside. It’s kind of like doing PT. There’s a camaraderie that comes from running out here – you’re tackling the same hills, you get exhausted at the same time. You have a lot of things that you share.”
“I’m part of the Washington University Cross Country and Track team, so it’s really nice to just step off campus and run through the Park. It’s nice to see people who just aren’t college age out running. You get that Midwestern friendliness in the Park.”
“I run here because I feel safe here. It’s also a great place to see the wildlife. For a minute, you don’t feel like you’re in the city. It’s really calming.”
“I live close by and am here every single day. I was here when there was ice and snow a couple weeks ago. The scenery is great. The people are great. Everybody knows the Park, and the Visitor Center is open seven days a week, so there’s a community just from running here.”
“It’s convenient. I work in the city, so it’s on my way home. Traffic is pretty slow in the Park, and people who drive through here are used to pedestrians.”
“There are so many different trails, and I like that you run past so much historic stuff. It’s so beautiful.”
“It’s centrally located. We met three people here today, and we’re from different areas. Susan’s from Illinois, and I’m from North County. We can meet at the Visitor Center and either do a loop or run around.”
The running community of Forest Park extends beyond the runners; it includes all the people making the Park and the Visitor Center the hub of St. Louis running. Regardless of your reason for why you run Forest Park, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that make this Park a go-to destination for so many runners. As part of its partnership with the City of St. Louis to care for the Park, Forest Park Forever:
Maintains the path system, making major repairs and repaving when necessary
Re-chats the heels path in areas as needed
Clears the snow in the winter on the asphalt/wheels path
Blows leaves and debris off the trails
Monitors and fixes potholes as needed
Repaints, repaves and reseals the paths to keep them in good condition
Maintains year-round restrooms and drinking fountains
Manages and maintains the Visitor Center