Urban Run #1 – Davis Square / Minuteman / Harvard and back

Hello dear blog world, and any friends I’ve picked up so far in this sphere.  I must begin with my apologies – yes, for waiting so darn long to post again, but also for writing on something other than promised today.

But before I jump into the post I do intend to write, I want to explain that first apology, because the situation was just too great.  In short, a force called Hurricane Earl sufficiently threatened the Boston area a couple of weeks ago… to the point that American Airlines offered to fly me to Budapest a day ahead of schedule. YES, PLEASE.  (This just got in the way of such responsible things as blog posts, and remembering to bring umbrellas.)

Back to it, then.  This week, I would love to reflect in any way I can on the – for lack of a better word, not having done enough reflection so far – experience (wonderment? awesomeness?) of going to three new countries in the past two weeks.  I’m still reeling.

So I go running.  Well, to reflect and because I’m running my first half marathon in a week and a half and ran all of three times will traveling.  Whoops.

So today marks my first recap of a great running/urban hiking route I stumbled on today.  This is a feature I want to repeat many times in the future, since I have yet to find an outdoor adventure resource anywhere as good as San Francisco’s Weekend Sherpa, and can only aspire to offer as great advice for such adventures – urban and rural – for the Boston area.

On to the first installment!  I shall call thee:

Only-A-Little-Bit-Urban Run #1 – Minuteman/Harvard Loop from Davis

9 miles +/- as much as you want!

THE GIST

This run was such a fantastic surprise because it was a tour of some of the prettiest environments within easy foot reach of the Boston area – the trees and even lakes off the Minuteman, and the slate/brick walkways and old homes of the area just west of Harvard campus.  If I ever wanted to introduce a running friend to some of the charms of the area, this is probably the run I’d choose.

It’s also really customizable – just depends on how far out and back you want to go on the Minuteman, or how much you like running around random old neighborhoods.

And two excellent practical points:  you can go for a big long run and end it at Harvard then T it back home (if you’d rather spend that mileage among trees than among… Mass Ave).  It’s pretty easy to end this run at some grocery stores – relevant point for the ravenous such as me.

Oh, how dare I nearly forget?  It also runs right by Formaggio Kitchen.  Just go.

THE ROUTE

–       From Davis Square, get on the Minuteman right near the Holland Ave. T station.  You’ll have to pay attention to Minuteman signs as you pass through a couple of intersections, namely Mass Ave.

–       Keep following the path past an athletic field, Alewife T station, and under an overpass, then you’ll finally meet up with the more official-looking start of the Minuteman.

–       Simple to run up and back on the Minuteman as far as you want to make your run!  (If you’re looking for more than a 5-mile loop back to Davis, though, not including the bit to Harvard, then you’ll need to go past the second big intersection with Mass Ave., FYI.)

–       On the way back, to make this run extra-interesting, head in the direction of the bike route to Harvard Square – you’ll see signs for this once you approach Alewife again.  It’s 2.7 miles to Harvard from here (it’s more like 2 miles from Fresh Pond on the route I suggest, so not sure what detour they’re envisioning…).

–       Following the bike path to Harvard takes you past Whole Foods and TJ’s if your grocery stop is earlier than mine was today, and past Fresh Pond if you’d rather just do an extra-beautiful outdoorsy loop there instead, or to really lengthen the jaunt. (The loop around Fresh Pond is 2.25 miles, by the way.)

–       Once you pass Fresh Pond it isn’t well-signed, at least the perhaps off-route I went on today.  Basically, as you try to follow the Harvard bike path signs, just keep an eye out for Vassal and turn left on this. You’ll run/walk/skip about 0.7 miles until you reach Huron Ave. and turn left.

–       Stop in, or just drool in front of Formaggio Kitchen at 244 Huron Ave.

–       Take a right soon after on to Appleton Street (0.3 miles) and the setting really gets cute.  Your legs will be utterly distracted by the just, um, delightful and charming neighborhood (or propelled by the cheese and bread now in your belly?).

–       Once you reach Brattle Street, turn left to head to Harvard Square, or head right if you just want an excellent diversion from running – Tory Row a.k.a. lots of impressive homes from the 1700s.  More on Brattle Street in another post.

–       Once back in Harvard, you can finish out a 9-mile loop back to Davis by heading back on Mass Ave., hop on the T if you’re absolutely spent, or, hey, head to the Charles and just go big with beautiful runs available to you. I, instead, chugged some strawberry milk and bought more food than I could carry at Porter Square Shaw’s.  To each his own.

And this is a terrible headline but I had to go there:

BODILY BASICS

  • Water – You can find lots of water fountains along the Minuteman, then convenience stores galore once you get back to Harvard area and the distance back to Davis. Not so much between Fresh Pond and Harvard, though.
  • Bathrooms – Your best bet is Harvard, folks.  But you’ll be happy to know there are free ones at the Coop.  You can also try the grocery stores I referenced, as well as any cafes that are willing, per usual.
  • Food – Same as above, but I still made this its own category because I was excited to reiterate that this route goes by some of my favorite grocery stores.

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