Destination: UTICA

French canyon starved rock

hi French canyon starved rock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve heard of “destination weddings” (Las Vegas, Hawaii, etc.) and I needed a little extra motor-vation to go on an extra-long run, so to make it more fun, I’d go on a “destination run”.  A quick look at the map revealed the following: To the North lies Wisconsin, the verdant forests and lakes choked with rich Illinoisian’s cabins. To the East, the cesspool of humanity called Chicago.   West it only says “Here be Dragons”. But…ah, to the South lies the Illinois river, Starved Rock State Park and the little town of Utica, IL. home of the historic Illinois and Michigan canal. It’s a disused canal, and a lot of it has been filled in but there is a towpath running parallel to it and goes through some nice river valley scenery…Ideal for a Sunday run!

So I loaded up the K9 running club – Izzy and Riker and off we went.

Close quarters in the pick-up’s cab, but these two knuckleheads behaved themselves…mostly.

I just realized I didn’t actually take any photos of the towpath. Doh! There were lots of cyclists, but no fellow runners. I left Utica, ran 3.4 miles west to US. 39, turned around and went back.  6.88 miles total and it took me 1:27.  Unbelievably slow, but I made it.  To tell the truth, I was done running after 1:10, and walked/ran the last bit.  The dogs were ecstatic to be back to the parking lot where we all had some ice water, beef jerky, and watermelon out of the cooler I packed in the bed of the truck. (Of course they eat watermelon-rind and all!)  Riker and Izzy lazed in the shade while I packed up our lunch and generally hobbled to the pit toilet and back.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of cyclists on the path, so I had to keep the dogs on a leash.  I made a super-cheap double dog leash out of clothesline, zip ties, duct tape and an old turned spindle as a handle a couple of years ago.

No, it’s not a medieval torture device, but that’s not a bad idea. And it passes the ultimate K9-10K  test: It’s cheap!

It hooks the dogs together.  Izzy is a “dragger” and Riker is a “puller”; I just hang on in the middle and let them drag and pull on  each other.  If I have to let go to fix my shoe, or something, it’s easy to loop around a branch or my arm and they won’t get away from me.  They have never run off when off the leash, but bikers sometimes get nervous that they will get chased.  About the biggest danger they pose is that they are oblivious to the need to get out of the way!

The ride home was uneventful with Riker sitting on top of Izzy as she laid across the seat with her head on my lap…Awwwwww!  I need to make some kind of platform in the front seat so they can both lay down up there.  When I take them to the Great Western Trail in  Sycamore they just ride in the bed but I’m not comfortable with them back there while I blast along at 70 mph. I mean 55mph.   Here’s a question: How do you transport your dogs to the running path?

So the run was a barking success. I’ll have to look back at some old running logs to see how long it’s been since I ran that far.