TITLE: Running on the Road: St. Louis, Missouri AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 28, 2005 10:59 AM DESC: Running in downtown St. Louis comes down to the Arch... ----- BODY: (The fourth stop in the Running on the Road series. The first three were Allerton Park, Illinois, Muncie, Indiana, and Vancouver, British Columbia.) While in St. Louis for SIGCSE, I got out for three runs. Most of my stay was at a Motel-6 just off I-270 on the northside of town, at Dunn Road. That means I can't give advice that will help to most of you, who are unlikely to have my family reasons for staying there -- or my idiosyncratic desire for taking economy travel to an extreme on some trips. Let's just say that I was pleased to find an attractive middle-class neighborhood just behind the motel, one with lots of trees and curvy roads. It was perfect for a couple of easy 5-milers before my drive downtown to the conference. I spent my last night at the conference hotel, the Renaissance Grand, which is on the corner of 8th and Washington. This hotel is a half mile or so from St. Louis's signature landmark, the Gateway Arch. After a 5-minute jog toward the arch I reached Gateway Park. The arch sits in the middle of the park, with paved walks curving out from the arch to the corners of the park. I ran the perimeter of the park, except the southwest corner, which I replaced with a path into the arch and one of those arcing roads out to the corner. The result was a loop of a bit more than 1.5 miles. I ran that loop seven times which, combined with the jogs to and from the hotel, gave me something in the neighborhood of a 12-mile jog. Oh, and I must tell you that this is no ordinary loop. The Gateway Arch sits atop a ridge, and the park borders the Mississippi River. The result is a significant change in altitude. The westside of the park has three massive sets of concrete stairs. My loop included the northernmost staircase, which I ran up on each pass. (See the box on the map below.) The climb took me 30-35 seconds and ended with rubbery legs. The rest of the loop had a few small rises and a couple of declines down to the waterfront road. This made for a good hill workout! The next time I stay in St. Louis, I hope to have some opportunities for a few different runs. St. Louis has some other park running routes available as you get away from the crowded old city district. Downtown, I'd like to run Chestnut and Market Streets, which frame a long stretch of greenery leading west from Gateway Park out toward St. Louis University. Along that route I'll also pass near the Savvis Center -- perfect for a visit to Arch Madness some year. (Go, Panthers!)