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Nature Group to Runners: Heed the Call of the Wild

October 20, 2011

NEW YORK - Whether you're a jogger in the gym or training for the upcoming New York City Marathon, the Nature Conservancy has some advice for you: Get out and run in nature.

The group has listed its 10 favorite U.S. places to run in the great outdoors. Five of them are in the Empire State, including Riverside Park in Manhattan.

The group's director, Bill Ulfelder, says he knows firsthand - from running there - that it's possible to be out in the wild while still in the city.

"Cold winter day, but sunny and outdoors. And I just had one of the most fabulous experiences seeing this gorgeous bald eagle - our national symbol - flying right by on the Hudson River. That doesn't really happen in the gym too often."

The other highly regarded nature runs are Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island, the Finger Lakes Trail System in Seneca, Jackrabbit Trail in Keene, and the Butler Sanctuary in Westchester County.

The group's list isn't comprehensive, Ulfelder says; it's just trying to give a few key examples in areas which are home to a lot of runners. However, he says New York is a leader in attractive places to run.

"If you get upstate - I've had the opportunity to run in the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes - New York is a remarkably beautiful state, and there are a lot of great places to run around the state as well."

Ulfelder not only recommends getting out to run in nature, but doing it enough to notice the changes in seasons and maybe think about what it takes to make sure these areas remain pristine.

"You do start thinking about that, and what are steps we can take to inform ourselves about the issues of the day, and how we might contribute to keep these places as special as they are today."

The website grew out of a group of Nature Conservancy staffers, members and friends who are participating Nov. 6 in the New York City Marathon, running as "Team Nature." The list is online at nature.org.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY