It’s fall, or almost.
Though the past few days haven’t felt like that. As I sit here in my kitchen, it’s about 85 degrees upstairs in my house. I’ve only turned my air conditioning on a handful of times this summer – I can’t stand being cooped up in a closed house – but it’s testing me more than ever today.
Maybe I’m just ready to be done with it. I want crisp, cool air. I want leaves crunching under my feet. I want to start wearing ankle boots and stop painting my toenails.
My social media feeds have been full of people doing what we all love to do this time of year: Spend time outside.
Trail running. Ultramarathons. Hikes through state parks. Bike races.
Here in Sioux Falls, our options for those things is getting better every day.
Last year, I wrote about Falls Area Single Track, a local nonprofit raising money to build trails at Tuthill Park. They hired a firm out of Rapid City to build professional trails, and as of this week, they have about 1.5 miles built and have raised about $55,000 of $75,000 needed.
The hope is for another 2 or 3 miles at the park, built in a way to make it accessible for most levels of mountain biker, and created in a sustainable way that doesn’t require constant maintenance – a lesson FAST learned after building a few miles of trails at Leaders Park.
The group is holding a fundraiser at Fernson on Wednesday to make the last push to build the trails. The event, which begins at 6 p.m., includes several raffle items – including a bike and a pair of trail shoes. And Fernson will give $1 of each beer sold to the group.
The Sioux Falls Area Running Club also is giving money to FAST. Profits from the trail race series – which includes the run at Good Earth State Park this weekend – will go to the nonprofit.
It’s part of giving back to the community and supporting other recreation groups.
“We’ve already started planning to try and help with trail maintenance days and getting the two groups together for some joint relay events,” club president Nathan Schwab said recently.
FAST board member Clay Austin said he’s all in on working with other groups to spread the word.
In the decade or so since FAST got started, they’ve already heard from grateful neighbors like those near Leaders Park who were happy they had somewhere new to go for after-dinner walks.
Building trails isn’t just about making a place for mountain bikers.
It’s about making a place for recreation in Sioux Falls.
Those of you who read this blog know that our family does it all – I’ve been running for a long time – nearly 30 years at this point, from the day I laced up my running shoes for high school track – and I was a mountain biker in college. Then I took time to just tool around on a bike with my kids and now I’ve been doing cyclocross (which is stupid fun, come join me).
Beyond that, I like to just be outside. I drag my kids to road races and trail races and now weekend-long bike race events. I make them go hiking with me every Mother’s Day and endure their complaining while we wander in the woods.
I like it all.
And I like it the most when I can do it right here in Sioux Falls, when I can be out there with my friends and family, and give a nod or a high-five to a familiar face on the trail. When I know the money I give isn’t just for me – it’s for dog-walkers and Mother’s Day and some kid who says, hey, I wonder where that goes.
I broke my arm earlier this spring – and whined mightily about it on this blog – and when I went for my check-up, the hand surgeon said she had been thinking of me because she and her son, who is about 10, were riding their bikes along the bike path. They saw the split in a fence along the side, the dirt path, and dipped down.
They rode the single-track trails through the woods.
And had a blast.
These are trails that FAST built and maintains.
And here was a mom and a curious son and that moment as a parent when you just say, “sure,” to a kid, because why not? As a parent you say a lot of “no.” And sometimes you have to ask yourself why – is there some legitimate reason you can’t say yes to ice cream after dinner or hammering nails into this random piece of wood or taking a detour to who knows where on the side of the bike path.
A lot of the time, there’s no real reason to not say yes.
And because of this opportunity that FAST created – not just for mountain bikers or trail runners – this mom and her son were able to say they spent part of their day mountain biking.
I love this.
And I want to support it. I have to go to a meeting on Wednesday to talk about how to help recruit runners to the Jingle Bell 5K the weekend after Thanksgiving – let me know if you need details on the race – but when I’m done, I hope to swing over to Fernson and have a beer and buy a raffle ticket.
I’ll find out when the next trail maintenance night is, and drag myself out to do what needs to be done.
Sign up for one of the running club races – there’s still Newton Hills if you’re not ready for Good Earth this weekend.
Do whatever it takes to support the many local nonprofits trying to make better recreation a possibility in our community.
Being outside is all I want to do. I want to eat outside, sleep outside, take a walk or go for a run or ride to the park with the kids. I want a picnic. I want coffee on the deck. I want the windows open when I sleep, a fan whirring or curtains blowing.
I want to see a ribbon of dirt peek out from the trees and know that if I take a step on it, it will take me somewhere I need to be.
Wherever that is.
Thanks, FAST, for helping make it happen. Cheers to you on Wednesday.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear every other Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.
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