On a chill February afternoon I went förorts terränglöpning! Förorts terränglöpning or “suburban trailrunning” allows runners to get the exercise benefits and excitement of trail running without having to travel far from the communities they live in. Animals tend to take the path of least resistance, but we’re not animals, so why not take the path with resistance? We are talking running in the small patches of woods that divide neighborhoods, abandoned parking lots, drainage ditches, culverts, under highway bridges, interstate berms, etc. It is about varying the terrain and movements as ridiculously as possible while running in an suburban environment. Förorts terränglöpning is Swedish for suburban trailrunning because, well, it just sounds so cool in Swedish.

It was a cold morning. The temperature was in the upper 20’s with a 15 mph wind with 30+mph gusts. I started at the Diamond in Hollidaysburg (about Hollidaysburg architecture) and made for the the nearest alley way. Then on Walnut Street, I made a small cut across the abandoned Highland Hall. Around the backside I came across the first challenge, an embankment down to Spruce Street which I did not expect. On Spruce Street I was about to cut through the yard of a vacant house but chose otherwise. I ran down to the high school track and cut through the field and past the YMCA.

The trail between YMCA and Fox Hollow - with Chumpers, my shark hat.

It was now time to venture off road. There is a section of woods from the YMCA to a newer development called Fox Hollow. The trail, which follows a water line, is about a half of a mile long. At Fox Hollow I was going to run below the houses and along Brush Run but was stopped by a no trespassing sign and turned around. DISCLAIMER: REMEMBER, KIDS! Don’t trespass and go where you don’t belong. I was now on a hard road and climbed up the hill to the top of the development. At the top, I was off-road again on a quad path and found myself on the other side of a hollow and Convention Center Blvd. Here I took a spill, again, not lifting my feet high enough to pass over the roots and rocks hidden under the snow. The trail made a strange downhill descent, then climbed back out of the hollow and then straight down again. Why would anyone make a trail like this? Finally, I was on a trail that snaked around a few water holding ponds and some marshlands. The trail then goes under Convention Blvd. and crosses Brush Run. Brush Run is rather wide here, about 30 feet from side to side with water going up halfway up my calf. I did not want to think about what washes into upstream so I derpishly went in. I came to a muddy service road and an abandoned house with a door on each end. Perhaps I should run through it on the way back?

Stream crossing - Brush Run under Convention Blvd.

636 Eldon Street - An abandoned house in Lakemont

I crossed the creek again and onto a hard road and into a trailer park in an area called Lower Lakemont on Eldon Avenue. As I ran down Eldon, I looked to my left at a hill. I know on the top of the hill is Park Hills Country Club. If I could only get up to the top… Then at Rebecca Street, I could see a tree house on the hillside and a briar-entangled goat path that might be a passage to the top. After through woody briars (no path) and flushing some deer, I arrived at the far fairway and made my way toward the country club grounds. It was cold and the wind swept through me as I ran out in the open on that hill. At the country club, I headed for a set of condos. On my drive to work, I would see a worn trail that goes down from the condos and down onto Logan Boulevard. I could have gotten closer to the condos but opted to dart into the woods and down the hill to the boulevard. I was hoping to catch the trail but I was too high on the hill and ran down the hillside crossfelling-style and made it behind a billboard on the boulevard. Passing drivers had no idea where I came from.

Ponyshoe Curve at Lakemont Park

I crossed the four-lane boulevard and onto a dirt road that straddled Lakemont Lake and the boulevard as it makes an incline to the crest of the hill. I ran along the lake until the road makes a sharp incline and shoots past the boulevard to a hill and billboard overlooking Interstate 99. Here, I ran along a clearing above the highway that took me between a set of woods along a steep hillside and back down to Lakemont Park. Finally, I found a deer trail down the steep hill and back to the park. At the bottom, I took a picture of a bridge from one of those midget locomotive rides that were popular many years ago.

At the edge of the park grounds, I had to run around the perimeter of the park due to the cyclone fence. At the edge of the park, the fence broke off and intersects with a deer fence that parallels the interstate. I continued along the fence until I came a tree that was growning along the fence. My only option was to climb the tree, belly crawl out on a branch, jump down and over the fence. The tree and the branch were very thick and I got a little scratched up in the process. After jumping off the tree, I crossed the creek once again and found yourself in front of the ballpark, unfortunately named Peoples Natural Gas Field.

I ran around the ballpark and in the true spirit of suburban trailrunning, I ran across a parking deck and down the steps into the lower levels of the garage. Emerging out into the open, I ran through the center of Boyertown. Now an office park, Boyertown was a failed amusement park back in the 1980’s and was centered around Boyer Candy Company’s Mallo-Cup. It last only two seasons.

Boyertown U.S.A., now an office park.

After exiting the former park, I contined along the edge of Lakemont Lake, across Logan Bolevard, and backtracked my previous route through Lower Lakemont and under Convention Center Blvd. and the double stream crossing. Next, I climbed up the hallow and over the top to emerge at an abandoned industrial site. I cut across along the hill as I tried to avoid going down the hill toward Plank Road. Here, I came across a house with more a dozen white crosses with biblical and anti-government passages written on each cross with a Sharpie. This was the only time I was scared during my run. I decided it was a good time to take the main throughfare.

Traffic was busy on Plan Road and got a lot of stares and some horns as I ran with mud-stained running pants. Near the intersection of Plank Road and North Juniata Street I darted over into the trees and came to a church on a hill. I ran down toward the rear of the state police barracks. I continued along North Juniata until I darted into the woods and into Veterans Park. I learned several weeks later that a friend saw me dart into the woods and could not make heads or tails of what I was doing. I guess he didn’t recognize me as a suburban trailrunner.
Once in the park, I did the Sloppy Socks course around the perimeter of the park and then scaled an embankment to an apartment building. I snaked my way back into Hollidaysburg. For the finale, I wanted to cut through a friends’ yard and then take a ride on their rope swing but when I got there, the rope swing was gone.
I saw a lot of interesting things in this 12 mile run that I look forward to doing something like it again. Here is a link to my Runkeeper GPS of that run.