Saturday I met up with my friend Justin at the Grills Preserve in Bradford, RI. This property is now managed by the Westerly Land Trust, but has some sketchy untold history (previously owned by a very large dyeing factory). My dad had explored it on mtn. bike and told me that it was worth checking out, but for some reason I never really thought about running there. Justin has run in it a few times before and suggested we go there and do a long trail run.
The weather was truly perfect - upper 40's at the start, mid 50's at the finish - sunny and little wind. My body was pretty tired from my run the day before, but I was excited to run. Justin was sick, so I figured we would settle into a relaxing pace. The plan was to run the perimeter trails, see how long that took us, check the map, and then run the trails we missed or ones we wanted to run again. We were hoping for about 10 miles. Our guide was Justin's Garmin watch - so I knew that I was going to disagree with the mileage it said we ran versus what we actually did run.
We headed off towards the Pawcatuck River, running over manmade berms and by numerous lagoons - what these were made for I probably don't want know, but at least nature is returning once again. At one point the trail was completely flooded. We decided to bushwack rather than backtrack - 30 seconds later we refound the trail and we had to chuckle at how lame this off trail adventure was. I wasn't laughing for long as there was a significantly challenging hill ahead. The payoff is the overlook at the creatively named Big Hill. This spot was too gorgeous to not stop and linger for awhile. Soon, we were running down the hill and through some more varied terrain. At the 51 minute mark we reached the parking lot. I was really impressed at the size of this preserve.
A check of the map and we thought we would run down the middle this time - check out an old cemetery (the newest headstone was from 1826 I think) - and then attack Big Hill from a different (steeper?) direction. This ascent was the only quiet portion of the run - too tiring to talk. But once again, we found ourselves pausing and taking in the view of Big Hill. Looping back to our cars, we had run for 1:14:30. Justin's watch recorded the mileage as 8.35. There is no way this is accurate. Justin agreed, but he hit the road to get an even 10. I was happy to call it 9.5 (a very reasonable 7:50 minute mile pace) and head home with the windows down.
Check out Justin's account of the run here.