Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fast as road

...only softer on the knees, better scenery and with a nice cool bay breeze. What am I talking about? Running on the levees along the San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex includes a number of different refuges around the bay including the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge in the east and south bay. I have run numerous times in the east bay section starting from the visitor center and connecting with Coyote Hills near the Dumbarton Bridge. However, I have recently discovered another part of the same wildlife refuge that is down near my work in north San Jose. Actually, it is in Alviso just north of 237.

Yes, Alviso. Famous for great mexican food and the "great" smell from the nearby landfill. Well, it also includes a beautiful wildlife refuge that has an environmental education center. This section has a set of levees that connect up with the levees above the old Alviso Marina to make for a great dirt running path. It is flat, soft dirt, circling salt ponds and bay marshes. There are more species of birds in the area than I can count and (most importantly) it is upwind from the landfill. This is also a part of the Bay Trail that is a planned path around the entire bay. There are usually people riding bikes on the trails and a few walkers, but mostly it is pretty empty. The entire network perimeter is about the length of a half-marathon (hmmm...would be a good place for a race). The section near the marina is between 8.5 and 9 miles, but you can cross the railroad tracks to get over to the section near the environmental education center.

Truth be told it probably isn't quite as fast as running on the roads since you are almost guaranteed a headwind for part of the run. But, with recent weather here in California, that's a good thing!

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