Winter Running in the Fort

Even though many of us make wintertime excuses for laying off exercise, most runners are outdoors in all weather

running in the fort

Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer

“Running is a powerful and proactive way to address exercise. It can change your life. It is not easy at times, especially in cold weather, but it is worth it,” says Cynthia Cornwell of Fort Wayne. According to another local, Valerie Stauffer, “Winter running is invigorating and it gives you a whole new perspective of what your amazing body is capable of.”

We really have no excuses to lay off the outdoors. Fort Wayne has some amazing trails available for running: River Greenway, Towpath, Aboite, Pufferbelly, Foster Park, Kreager, the Salomon Farm Loop, Chain O’ Lakes, Two EEs Winery, and even running downtown were mentioned by local ladies as ideal places to run.

“You don’t get bored because you can always find new trails and paths. It becomes more of an adventure,” says Molly Bernard. She prefers Foster Park because “in the winter, Foster is consistently cleared of snow and it becomes the safest place to run for that reason.”

“This community has been blessed with this ever-growing trail system where runners, walkers and bikers can not only connect with the nature while still in town, but also stay safe and away from main roads and traffic,” says Carmen Tse. Tse much prefers running outdoors, whatever the weather, to running on the “dreadmill.”

“I have run outdoors when the wind chill was way below zero, which might not be the smartest thing to do, but it has worked for me for more than 35 years,” says Fort Wayne’s Betty Nelson. What keeps her heading outdoors is “… whatever the weather, it always looks worse from inside than it is once you get out there. You always end up with a feeling of accomplishment when it’s over.”

On Wednesday nights, Fort Wayne’s Mae Lorenzo-Miller runs with a group that starts at Three Rivers Running Company. The group runs on the greenway or through IPFW. Otherwise, Lorenzo-Miller sticks to paths close by work during her lunchtime runs. There are some winter running hazards to beware: traffic, for one. Says Cornwell, “It is difficult to stay safe from traffic, especially the insensitive and clueless drivers who see you on the side of the road running towards them.” Instead, she uses trails to avoid the roads.

To keep safe in the winter, Tse says: “Be seen. When the days are short, it’s more likely you’ll be running in the dark. Ladies, remember to run with a running buddy in the dark. Wear reflective, fluorescent gear. Use a headlamp or carry a flashlight so you can see where you’re going and drivers can see you.” Carrying a cell phone is always a good idea.

According to Stauffer, “I run on streets with or without sidewalks. I feel that the likelihood of perpetrators assaulting me as I’m running down State Street (for example) is far less than if I’m alone on the greenway. Plus I enjoy the hub bub of the city.”

Dress for the weather! “There are no bad days to run in the cold, just bad clothes,” says Cornwell, “I use hand warmers that last eight hours inside my gloves. Layers are key. Definitely no cotton!”

Lorenzo-Miller echoes many of the above women: “I love being outdoors! The only time that I won’t run outside is if there is lightning or ice. Being outdoors offers different challenges every day whether it’s rain, snow, wind or even when it’s sunny.”

Excuses be gone — it’s time to reach for your running shoes.

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About Drema Drudge

Drema Drudge received her MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University and has had her fiction most recently published in The Louisville Review, Mused, ATG, Mother Earth News, and Penumbra. She is a frequent contributor to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Drema is married to musician Barry Drudge. They have two grown children, Mia and Zack. Feel free to visit Drema's website where she explores her passion for writing about art at dremadrudge.com.

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