Tempo runs, fartlek runs, anaerobic threshold (AT) runs, race-pace runs… anything that requires running at or near one’s fastest pace can be executed perfectly at the Springwater Corridor. A route long enough to facilitate anything from a few miles of a lung-burning workout to a decent long run at a slower pace, it is almost as flat as a pancake, near the city center, anyway.
Springwater Corridor started as a railway that connected Portland and the town of Boring, OR back in 1903, fizzling out of use around 1958. The forward-thinking Portlanders converted it first to a trail suitable for mountain biking, then to a bona fide pedestrian-and-cycle-trafic-only path. It starts just south of Eastbank Esplanade and continues for about 21 miles south and east, until reaching Boring. Except for a small gap in the Sellwood neighborhood, usually bypassed on city streets, the entire length is a continuous asphallt strip. Eventually, plans call for extending the path further east, towards Mt. Hood, connecting it to the Pacific Crest Trail. Furthermore, it is a part of the 40-mile loop, a trail system that actually combines approximately 140 miles of trail throughout about thirty Portland-area parks.
In its current state, the Springwater Corridor is used a lot by folks commuting to work and around town on bicycles. It provides a useful traffic artery without the dangers of encountering vehicle traffic. Metro area runners use a part of the path closest to the city center – an approximately 3-mile stretch between the Ross Island bridge and the Sellwood Bridge.
The distance makes it great for a mid-length training run – anyone can squeeze a 6-miler in. The lack of elevation change is great for working on getting faster, or testing one’s abilities as a part of pre-race tune ups. Springwater is accessible year-round, even in Oregon rain, or on a rare snowy occasion, it remains free of mud and easy to navigate.
If your aim is to go long, rather than fast, that is definitely doable, as the overall length of the path certainly allows for that. Additionally, the central location makes it accessible from many spots in the metro area by simply running there.
Past Sellwood Bridge, Springwater parallels Johnson Creek on its way east. The pathway is bordered by fields and trees most everywhere, which makes your run, or for that matter, bicycle commute, easy on the eyes. Yet one more reason to pin the ears back and see how fast you can go.
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