A few months ago, when it was desperately hot and humid, I was at a blogger conference where I was introduced to a few very cool people who just happen to work in the arena of visitors bureaus and city advertising and promotion type stuff. These folks, they do good work trying to get more people to find, try and love the gems they already know are in their towns. It just so happened that one of them was giving away a two night hotel stay with a few other goodies thrown in. It just so happened that it was in a town we frequently visit for races. I was covetous. My inner Gollum revealed himself “ME WANTSES IT, the precious.” My Gollum won and in my dirty little hands was laid an envelope full of promises for a great weekend in my future.
It is no longer hot and humid in Arkansas. We had snow and ice 2 weeks ago and the weather cooperated with the Snow Miser to keep a lot of that snow and ice on the ground with periods of freezing precipitation into the next weekend. This was no good. The final cyclocross race of the season, the state championship race, and our planned weekend of promise from the summer winnings was at hand. It was cold and blustery and we were on a mini vacation. And worse, I needed to run. NEEDED. Work, weather, family and side business duties have been hacking away at time for my long runs and I’m supposed to be training for two marathons and a 50K between Christmas and April. After a day and a half of site-seeing, shopping and shivering, I sucked it up, bundled up, tucked a map and my new yaktrax in my pocket, and set out to discover Rogers, Arkansas on foot.
I find maps helpful and I came to Rogers armed with a few. A street map and a trails map gave me a pretty good idea of areas I could easily get to without being on roads that might be dangerous on foot.
I wound my way from Veterans Park to the downtown area via the quaint neighborhood with porches and eves decorated with wreaths and lights, and sidewalks decorated with piles of leftover snow. I considered avoiding snow piles, ice patches and puddles as a bonus workout. Snow and ice patches crunched under the tread of my trail shoes as I zigzagged my way through the streets with only a few funny looks from residents. After a few miles of zigzags, I found the street that would lead me to the Lake Atalanta trails. The sun had come out to play and the temp was rising but the ice still coated the eastern side of the lake. This looked like a great place to test those yaktrax. Instead of slipping and sliding I was running full tilt, sure footed. I am so happy I bought these puppies, they might be the handiest gear I’ve purchased this year. Looping around the lake to get mileage in, I stopped to enjoy the light skipping on the water and to look for the eagle a walker told me liked to frequent a particular point on the lake.
I never found the eagle but I still enjoyed the scenery as I toddled past all the fishermen. I was shedding layers while at least one of them was retreating to the warmth of a running vehicle. Maybe he should’ve taken a lap with me?
Crossing Walnut Street I hit the still very icy trails at Diamond Springs Park that connect the lake to downtown Rogers where I halted my run long enough to read about the Frisco Spring. What better way to learn about a town than running through its history? The spring was a water source for the Frisco Railroad. The town of Rogers sprang up as a stop on the rail route and the rest…is history. To get back to downtown, I had to take the 3/4 mile trail section with 300 ft of elevation change. Those yaktrax came in handy again as I navigated the slick natural terrain.
I zig zagged through town again, fighting the urge to stop in at Iron Horse Coffee Company for a cup, finally deciding to head back to Veterans Park in time to see at least part of the cyclocross racing. The nice couple at the concession stand in the park stayed open to provide frosty spectators and racers who were done for the day with hot cocoa and other provisions. I took advantage of that option, twice. I have to throw in a kudos to them, it is unusual to have a concession open during these races and they were there for another reason when they realized an opportunity to warm up some cold folks.
When I asked if the day had been worth it to them, the response was “Yes, and we’ve really enjoyed talking to the people who’ve come in today. We’ll be sure we’re here next year.” That’s what I’m talking about, community givers. And with Arkansas weather patterns, I hope they’re prepared with popsicles for the next one. One never knows what December weather will be in Arkansas.
This trip was sponsored by the Rogers Convention and Vistors Bureau, all opinions expressed are my own. We packed a lot more into the weekend and will be posting more about it. Thanks for a great visit Rogers!