Among the thousands of The Cowtown participants, many of them have already left their footprint on the streets and trails in and around Fort Worth.
Fort Worth’s runners have plenty of sites to pursue their wellness goals or competitive ambitions that accommodate a slow slog or going hell bent for leather. And, make no mistake, there will likely be newer and improved versions to come for a city led by a mayor who has made health and wellness a top priority.
Healthy communities, the thinking goes, are more productive and prosperous, more friendly, and more appealing to corporations looking to relocate.
So what better incentive to get people out from behind their TVs, computers and phones, the pantry door, and the kids’ new math homework than appealing green spaces and landmarks to see on foot.
Fort Worth has a bunch of them, many of them along the city’s natural necklace, the Trinity River.
“Runners have a unique perspective of the area in which they run,” said Tamara Ogle, the training group director at Fort Worth Running Co. and assistant coordinator of The Cowtown’s C.A.L.F. program. “It makes the run more enjoyable if it is scenic, picturesque and potentially fun, especially when shared with a group. Memories are made on these runs.
“My group loves running all across Fort Worth and seeing beautiful areas.”
The Cowtown 5K and 10K are set for Saturday morning. The Cowtown marathon, half-marathon and ultra-marathon will be run on Sunday.
Using the Tarrant County courthouse as a point of reference, you can hit the Trinity River east or west from Heritage Park.
A left turn from the courthouse can turn into a roughly 14-mile jaunt to Southwest Boulevard. It’s all paved, but for a good portion of it, a gravelly trail is an option. Asked about their favorite running routes, many mentioned that 2.5-mile portion of the trail that goes from the Clearfork Food Park to the Press Café.
From that southwest direction are tributary trails, such as Overton Park to Foster Park, ideal for Marc Hernandez, a past half-marathon finisher at The Cowtown.
“It provides great shade,” he said, a necessity for some during the summer months.
If from the courthouse you choose a northeasterly direction, an eight-mile roundtrip to Gateway Park, with new paved trails along the Trinity was a popular selection among runners asked.
Ogle also takes her runners to “Taylor Hill,” near the courthouse, for elevation work, to deal with sections of races, such as The Cowtown’s Mile 9, up the Paddock Viaduct to the courthouse.
That segment of the marathon is renowned for its brutality.
“I’m a big fan of the trails because you always see people you know and there’s a good water stop at the trailhead,” said Karen Bass, 45, whose least favorite activity of the triathlon is the footrace. “There are several fountains along the way so you don’t have to wear a hydration belt with multiple bottles, which are annoying … .”
Bass said her preferred spot is Marine Creek, along the Jim Wright Freeway northwest of downtown. “It’s a nice distance – right at six miles – for loops if you have a long run. And it’s pretty. The trails are concrete, which I like, wide and in great condition.”
Near Marine Creek, but off Texas 199, aka the Jacksboro Highway, is the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Carved out of the nature center is an eight-mile rolling loop.
Louie Muga had a quick answer when asked his favorite run, a path near the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.
Once upon a time, you’d have had to crank up the iPod – a Walkman in those days – with B-52 Stratofortresses, B-36 Peacemakers, and B-29 Superfortresses taking off from Carswell Air Force Base. Actually, much of this relatively new trail was accessible to only those with some sort of security clearance.
“The natural waterfalls near Airfield Trailhead. My favorite spot,” said Muga, a Cowtown marathon participant for a number of years. “It’s a few hundred yards from the naval air station.”
The Airfield Falls Trailhead and Conservation Park opened to the public last year. One of its features is a McDonnell Douglas C-9.
Ogle got inventive for her groups at the running company.
“Our training group at FWRUNCO was preparing for Cowtown and we ran to five different murals,” Ogle said. “Each of the different pace groups took group pics in front of the murals. It was a fun way to see Fort Worth on foot.”
Not to mention a good way to stay interested at Mile 9 or 10.