A funny thing happened on the way to the track


When we moved here  nearly three years ago, I chose the neighborhood we live in largely because of a nearby cinder track. A small private school in the neighborhood had a soccer field ringed with a dirt oval. It was a little lumpy in spots, but it was the closest thing I could find to a dirt trail. There is an innocence in a cinder track that harkens back to the old days. I loved that track.

I logged about a million miles on it, give or take a few meters. It was always alive with people in the evenings and on weekends. Not the Serious Runners that had populated the track back in Scottsdale, but just normal, slightly overweight people walking and jogging for fitness. It was a good place to run.

Families, kids on Big Wheels and in wagons. Teens running and talking on their phones. Aspiring marathoners, perspiring 5Kers. Soccer games, planned and impromptu. It was a wonderful mixing pot of a community.

Here’s an old post about an average day at the track.


Because it was cinder, I would wear a little path in the outside lane that pleased me because it was a sign of the effort I had put in. When the rain came, I would run in the mud and then start all over again.

Once or twice a year, the coach would come out and put down lane markers with chalk. For a couple of weeks or until the first rain, I would run in my lane, staging little battles with my Imaginary Cassidy. He always beat me. Bastard.

The weirdest run I had there was one evening near Halloween when a train was hauling kids around on the track. That’s the only time in my years of running I can recall dodging a train on a track. But I’m getting old and I forget stuff.

It’s a private school and I know there was no reason for them to share it. But still, for years, whenever I heard the name of the school, I got the warm fuzzies. That was my track. Our track.

In October they began construction to put in a new track surface. Now it’s a shiny new state-of-the-art facility, whatever state-of-the-art is. They have top-notch long jump pits, pole vault whatchamacallits and shot put and discus areas. They also have new batting cages over in the corner.

And  a 6-foot fence around it with two padlocked gates.

I had hoped this might just be as a protection while the final stages of construction went on. But when I went today in hopes of finding it open, I ran into the baseball coach. He confirmed my fear: It’s going to be permanently locked up. No public access.

So that’s it. I live next to a track I can never use again, unless I enroll in Catholic school. And I look funny in a plaid skirt. Trust me.

It’s a private school and I know there is no reason for them to share it. But still, for years, whenever I hear the name of the school, I will get the opposite of the warm fuzzies. That was my track. Our track.

Now it’s just theirs.


About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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6 Responses to A funny thing happened on the way to the track

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m sorry that they closed your track to the public. 😦

  2. marci says:

    Boooooooo!! Our HS track looks just like the new one above, but they do let us tired old runners still use it. And our HS is kind of snooty, but you didn’t hear it from me….. Maybe your school will have a change of heart.

  3. Fellow runner says:

    What a beautiful tribute to the track in your neighborhood. I am familiar with this track that you speak of and I am sure it was not an easy decision for the school to make. With the recent school violence and school shootings, they may be trying to put security measures in place to protect the students.

    I am sorry that you lost your access to the track but on the bright side…you don’t have to compete with the kid on the tricycle.

    • ilikemargarine says:

      Oh, i know. After the Connecticut shootings, I’ve thought a million times that if I were a parent of one of the kids, there is NO way I would want strangers on the track that’s only a couple hundred feet from the classrooms. And even if it’s just an anti-vandalism measure, that makes sense to my head as well. I moved here from Phoenix, where all the public school tracks (and entire campuses) were locked down. I was kind of amazed when we started using the track that we were allowed. I would endlessly ask the coaches if it was OK, and was met by a series of emphatic approvals. One female coach beamed once and exclaimed, “ABSOLUTELY!” I felt like an honorary member of the track team.

      I guess it’s more of the kind of sadness that comes from watching something you love disappear. Part of getting old, I suppose. Out-and-back runs have clear finish lines. Tracks don’t. They just go around and around. You don’t think they’ll ever end.

      But nothing lasts forever.

      The worst part: I’m faster this year. I could’ve totally kicked Radio Flyer Boy’s butt …

  4. Fellow runner says:

    It is unfortunate that the school would have to think in that mind set instead of being able to extend the generosity that comes so naturally. Maybe you and Radio Flyer can have a race around the block so you can prove yourself. 🙂

  5. Jill says:

    You can venture over and use my school’s track. I just spent the past several days shoveling it so the kids could use it for track practice. Then the wind blew – bad – and I had to shovel it again. So it’s good to go until the next snow or wind storm (and it’s a public school, so free track to all. When the track kids aren’t using it. Sorry, sans cinders…but ah, I remember my high school cinder running track days…).

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