Remember the board game Candy Land? Who hasn’t played that a time or two? Players had to make their way up a winding path through locations such as Lollipop Woods, Gumdrop Mountains and Molasses Swamp in an effort to reach the Candy Castle and find King Candy, the lost king of Candy Land. I always got mad when I didn’t draw the Queen Frostine card(I guess it’s Princess Frostine now). I must admit, our Saturday morning long run in Nashville had a bit of a real-life Candy Land feel to it. Although the run was not nearly as easy as the board game.
We headed down to beautiful Percy Warner Park for a meet up and long run with a group called East Nasty Running Club, found via another google search. Percy Warner is well-known to road and trail runners as well as bikers for its twists and turns and massive hills in addition to the scenic views. We decided to run the 11.2-mile-long, winding loop that took us not through Lollipop Woods and Gumdrop Mountains but past locations known as Buggy Bottoms, Quiet Point, and Hairpin Curve in an effort to complete the challenging run before our legs fell off. The castle we were trying to reach in this game was the Gatorade jug sitting where we started the crazy run.
We were told by our friends at the Brentwood Breakfast Club that Percy Warner Park was beautiful and a must run that would earn us instant street cred. Upon arrival at the Belle Meade Road entrance we glared up at an impressive, steep, stone staircase on which a large group of people were sprinting up and down. These famous steps are known as The Allee, the front door to this 2000+ acre park. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t our group.
David Harris, who Jimmy coordinated with, was first to greet us at the meeting site. He then introduced us to Mark Miller, founder of the East Nasty Running Club. There were about 50 people in total, a small turnout for this group due to a race in the area and some unseasonably cold temperatures. Their training plan was geared toward a target race of either the Rock n Roll Nashville Half or Full Marathon on April 30th. Turns out we were in the minority by running the full 11.2 loop but there were a few others who joined us including David. Everyone separated into pace groups and off we went.
What did we get ourselves into? I remember wondering if people were chuckling at the fact that the Chicago people, who only know flat land were in for a surprise on this run. During our ascent along the paved path between rows of bare trees, the scenic views were simply beautiful providing the best of what nature has to offer. I can only imagine how much more amazing the view can be during the green of summer or colors of fall. Wildlife, picnic groves, many hiking trails, a golf course, and an equestrian center are among the many other sites along the trail.
The steep inclines at miles 3 and 9 were probably the most challenging hills I’ve ever run. A close friend would refer to them as character builders. The mile 3 hill may have also been the most deceiving because it was a winding hill that never seemed to end. Needless to say we had a wonderful run while meeting some great people along the way. Getting to the top of the mile 9 hill was like reaching the Candy Castle because we knew the hardest part of the run was over at that point. We felt pretty good about completing the run.
Along the run we met Rob (D.C Transplant), Alex (she owned those hills), Sara (the recent MBA grad just getting back to running), Kevin (the soon to be first time dad who’s training for his first half-marathon), and so many others who were nothing but nice to us. We joined several at a nearby bagel shop for a post-run breakfast.
East Nasty Running Club started just over 10 years ago when Mark Miller and a few others began meeting each Wednesday evening at the Five Points Intersection in East Nashville. The group is unique in that it doesn’t charge a membership fee and operates as a non-profit organization. David Harris said they really do well with helping to promote the East Nashville community while also making running availability to anyone. They even provide a free training program each summer called “Potato to Tomato”/Couch to 5k training program designed to prepare new runners to complete the Tomato Fest 5K.
Every Wednesday at 6pm at the corner of 11th & Holly in East Nashville you will find at least 150 runners of all levels gathering to run 3-6 miles through the East Nashville neighborhoods. Once they’re done they head over to 3 Crow Bar for food and beverage. There’s also a 6am Wednesday run for the early birds. Be sure to check out this awesome group at https://eastnastyforlife.com/.
Later in the day we drove to meet some of the group in East Nashville at Nashville Running Company, a run store celebrating their 4th Anniversary. We got to meet the owner Lee and hang with some of the locals while indulging in snacks and adult beverages. Oddly, we stopped into the Nashville Running Company west location the day before and met Eric and Ashley, two of Lee’s awesome employees. They were a lot of fun to speak with and gave us great advice for our Percy Warner run.
For more information on that National Running Company please visit their website: http://nashvillerunning.com/
If you want a scenic yet challenging run, Percy Warner Park is a must do while in Nashville. For more on Percy Warner Park click here