Local travel; Walking or running gets you close to the action and scenery!

In Shape Club runners on Calaveras Trail just west of UOP.

Walking or running gets you close to the action and scenery; travel locally and burn calories!

Elijah Dennison and his grandfather out for exercise in Quail Lakes area of Stockton.

With fall’s sunny days, mild evenings, cool mornings and only seven weeks to Thanksgiving, what better time to get out and see your community, burn a few calories and drop a couple pounds before the holidays? With changing fall foliage and so many scenic and accessible places to walk or run, what’s keeping you?

I contacted several well-known athletes in the community to ask how novices can get started, or low-key walkers or runners can improve, and, their recommendations.

Tony Vice, triathlete and owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Lincoln Center, suggested both Fleet Feet and the Sundance Running Club are great places to begin. I asked Tony for advice in getting started, or, increasing distance for low-key athletes, “Running and walking is easy…just lace up your shoes and step out your front door. Find a friend, family or neighbor, because going together makes you accountable to someone else”.

Need more motivation? Vice notes, “Fleet Feet Stockton has a weekly Tuesday Night run and walk at 5:30 pm leaving the store – rain or shine! We are also adding a YES UCAN walking and weight loss program starting in November to get participants through the tough holiday season”. As to training aides, he adds, “there are lots of free online programs for first timers. They are all great and you can work around your schedule. I always encourage first timers to join a group program though. It makes it less difficult to give up”.

Sundance Run Club walkers and runners at Saturday Fun Run event at Grupe Park.

Ralph Womack, founder of the popular Run and Walk Against Hunger on Thanksgiving morning, reflected back on his running career, which started about 20 years ago. He notes, “I measured a one mile loop from my home. My focus was getting going and improving in tiny steps.  The first time I ran until I was panting pretty heavy early on. It was not fast and it was not for long but when I had enough running I walked and caught my breath then ran again.

So my next goal was to just run longer before I needed to stop and walk.  I kept this up over time until I could continue to run for the full one mile loop.  Once I accomplished that I gradually increased my distance until I could run the full two loops without stopping. Once I could run the loop 3 times I signed up for a run and felt pretty proud that, even though not fast, I could complete a whole race without walking”.

Ralph notes that Lodi Lake is one of his favorite places to run, individually or in a group (he has a lively, almost every-morning running group at Quail Lakes In Shape Club). “Though it is farther, a few times a year we go there and run the lake early in the morning. If you start in the front, run toward the east through the outer trail of the wilderness trail, then come out of the nature area and turn right you run up to the bathroom and picnic area where you turn around and run back.  That gives you 2+ miles running or walking once you return to the start”.

Ralph Womack (back row on left) and group of friends at Lodi Lake Park.

Here are favorite walking/running routes in the county. In north county, check out the trails and the wonderful views at Cosumnes River Preserve two miles north of Thornton. Lodi Lake, already mentioned, and discover quiet vineyard backroads centered around Lodi, perfect for scenic and flat walking or running routes.

Shima Tract offers a choice of four or eight miles on gravel levees, scenic and in the heart of our Delta. From the very west end of Stockton’s Hammer Lane, turn left on Lighthouse, go right at the fork and immediately right on the court that ends against the levee.  Park there and walk up the levee and go left for an 8 mile loop.  If you prefer four miles, just cut across and return on the road that intersects at about two miles.

In Stockton, the Bear Creek Trail offers adventure – park near Bear Creek High School, go south on Thornton and then west on the trail, to Trinity Parkway, continue on the levee, paved for another mile – and unpaved beyond, westward into the beautiful Delta.

The Calaveras Bike and Walking Trail is long a favorite. Park at University of Pacific’s campus, where the DeRosa University Center offers a great place to meet and take a break, then cross the footbridge and walk or run west on the trail towards Brookside.

Author's grandkids Jack, Jessica and Hunter out for a hike on Shima Tract in norht Stockton.

The Sundance Running Club hosts a weekly Fun Run on Saturdays at 8 AM at Stockton’s Grupe Park (west side of the park).  On any given Saturday the club is likely to have walkers, runners, and bikers in attendance.

In south county, check out Manteca’s walking and running trails, complete with bridge across the Stanislaus River. Weston Ranch, Tracy and Lathrop also have a variety of options, some right along Delta waterways. Or, explore the eastern side of the county for options in rolling foothills and along Lake Comanche.

Two participants dress in Thanksgiving finery for the annual Run and Walk Against Hunger on Thanksgiving morning!

For more information: Fleet Feet Sports, Lincoln Center, fleetfeetstockton.com; Run and Walk Against Hunger (Thanksgiving morning), runagainsthunger.org; Sundance Running Club, sundancerunners.webs.com; for a map of Stockton bike and hike trails,  http://www.stocktongov.com/files/BikeRouteMap.pdf

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com.

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