Trail running creates an active urban community

News from ATRA partner the Collegiate Running Association

Written by Steve Taylor, founder of the Collegiate Running Association & Cross Country coach at the University of Richmond. Steve is pictured above interviewing 2014 CRA Mountain Running Champion Morgan Arritola at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire.

The first ever Collegiate National Trail Running Championships were a success with the best elite field depth of any of our championships to date. We nervously and excitedly went into the last few weeks of preparations given that we helped create a new trail race within a truly urban setting through primarily a partnership with Indiana Invaders Coach, Greg Harger and Eskenazi Health. With a late official announcement (only 5 weeks ago) that the race was a full go (with all the required permits in hand from the various agencies) we knew it would be a short turn around. The sponsors and officials within the city of Indianapolis wanted to get it done, which helped fast track much work on the “Urban Wilderness Trail”. It was truly fun to see everyone come together to make it happen on short notice. I believe it has tremendous potential!


Regardless of the event, the trail itself will become a center piece within the Fall Creek and White River corridor and has taken basic unused land and green space within the floodplain and ultimately preserved it for generations to come. Indianapolis is quickly realizing this section of the White River and Fall Creek park area (within downtown) have been, in large part, an untapped resource for the community and getting the citizen-athlete more active and ultimately healthy. The river has become much cleaner and healthier in the last 5-7 years as evidenced by the return of bald eagles to the area. The race sponsors are on board and they have the vision to see what “can be”. They have bought into the vision we collectively have for the trail race and support the mission of the CRA. This is a unique and new approach for the CRA. As you know we typically partner with existing, established events…however, the Indiana Urban Wilderness Run (IUWR) was created with multiple objectives and an overlay to our combined efforts to achieve both common goals and individual goals between the CRA, IUWR and Indianapolis. The bottom line…The city of Indianapolis now has a trail in downtown…along the White River and Fall Creek…and it is NOT paved!. Victory for the active community…

Even as we completed some work on the trail last Thursday with Greg Harger, runners from the community were already finding it and using it. We all laughed and remarked the old adage “build it and they will come”. What’s significant to this trail is that it only involved clearing a space for active people to use. No asphalt or heavy equipment…instead, simply taking an existing space and making it usable while leaving the wildlife to view and in ownership. Eagles, beaver, migratory waterfowl of all kinds, fox, rabbits, etc, etc, are all viewed on the trail within downtown Indianapolis within 3 minutes jog from the sky scrapers. Pretty cool…Pretty damn cool!!!


In the months and years to come the corridor will continue to be studied and unique, green space friendly art work is already being added. The artwork comes in all forms, from benches to true art pieces that blend into the natural surroundings and become useful to the local wildlife as well as those using the space. I’ve not personally seen anything like this before. It’s exciting to see and great that some visionaries within this urban community recognize the value of this area for the active business men and women who have access at their workplace doorstep and with the local community as a whole.

Dream it and do it…

About the Collegiate Running Association
The Collegiate Running Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded November, 2013 with a mission to promote healthy lifestyles among college students by providing and expanding opportunities in the sport of running. Our vision is to offer national championship events in road racing, mountain running, and trail running with prize money specifically reserved for college students that will be open to all college students enrolled in at least one class. In 2014 the CRA held two national championship events: a 10k Road Race held within the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond, VA, and a Mountain Race held in conjunction with the USATF Mountain Running Championships in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Combined, these events saw nearly 3,700 college students representing 150 colleges and universities compete. In 2015, The CRA will host four national championship events open to all college students, including two road races, a trail race, and a mountain race.