Saturday, October 13, 2012

Running in Napa

I spent a couple of days in the wine country, more precisely in Napa, for an IBM customer event. I was excited to be back there although I knew there won't be much running with meetings from 8 am to dinners finishing after 10 pm, and the rest of the night to catch-up with emails... I can't believe it has been 3.5 years already since my Napa Marathon run in March 2009, and I enjoyed the (wet...) memories which came back from reading my race report. Since then, I ran a 2:47 marathon at 47, so I'm still on my "Jean's law" (you'll have to read that old post to understand this one... ;-).

I woke up at 5:30 am on Wednesday and left the hotel at 6 am. It was pitch dark and I thought it would be safer to stay on the asphalt of the Napa-Vallejo Highway. We were staying at the Meritage, about 4 miles South of Napa. I was surprised how busy the highway was and, dazzled by the lights of the cars and truck driving at 60 mph, I had hard time seeing my footing. Fortunately, I spotted a trail sign at the Streblow Drive intersection. The sign said "River to Ridge Trail", keywords which all sounded great to me. Despite the total darkness, I decided to go toward the East ridge of the Napa Valley. I didn't want to fall again (see my broken shoulder episode...) and proceeded very carefully and slowly to avoid tripping on rocks or roots. After 0.6 mile, I saw some orange lights on the trail. I slowly walked toward them, they appeared to be a few live coals (dying fire), then I distinguished a dark shape which looked like a body, lying across the trail. Again, it was so dark that I could barely see what it was and I got scared enough, I just turned around. While I usually like to spot places to run after I ran them, I admit I didn't run up to the ridge. Yet, is seems like a great place to run if you are staying in Napa. Check the River to Ridge Trail information page.
As you can see on the map, the trail connects into the Skyline Wilderness Park and the Skyline Trail in particular for much more trail running!

And as the name says, the trail actually connects not only to the Napa River, on the West side, but to the relatively short Napa River Trail (3.1 mile or 5K). If you stay downtown Napa, you can hop on this trail on 3rd Street, near the train station hosting the famous Napa Valley Wine Train and it's moving restaurant, and go South. Check this blog for a description of the Napa River Trail with pictures, and the aerial map in Google Maps.

Note that these two trails belong to the huge network of trails constituting the San Francisco Bay Area Trail and Bay Area Ridge Trail, which I run so many sections of at the South of the Bay. 500 and 355 miles respectively! And two of the reasons I'm so thrilled to live in this region for those who wonder or ask...

Exploring these two trails, I ended up running a half marathon which was a great and healthy escape to burn quite a few calories from the great food and wines we were spoiled with during these three days. Yes, Napa is not only a place to drink great wines, it's also a place to eat awesome cuisines. And a place to run, eventually...! ;-)

PS: although the Napa Marathon is run on the Silverado Trail, don't be mistaken by the name, this is a 30-mile road, not a trail. And a busy road along many wineries so who knows how people are driving between the tasting rooms...

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Jean, do you have any knowledge about how close we are to being able to follow the ridge trail around the bay?