For my first few years in Spokane, straight out of college and newly entered into the full-time workforce, I had a corporate job I found terribly dull—but that came with access to a basement gym, locker room, and showers. The subtle encouragement to make space for exercise during the workday was a life-changer, and I transformed from semi-regular runner to a disciplined one. Most days I went for a lunchtime run followed by a speedy shower in the locker room before heading back to my basement cubicle, red-faced but much happier. Those runs helped me find my place in a new city and begin to feel like myself during a stretch in my early 20s when I wasn’t exactly sure who “myself” was. 

Since I worked downtown, I quickly became acquainted with the Centennial Trail, often taking it out toward Gonzaga and looping back to Riverfront Park. I’m an all-season runner, but spring is, hands down, the best one. On spring days I’d feel then what I still feel now: a buoyant, rising optimism directly proportional to the lengthening days. I was delighted by the flowering trees, the intensity of the water surging over the falls, by the marmots snuffling along the riverbanks. Some days I’d run west of downtown, passing through the dirt-lot construction zone in the pre-Kendall Yards days and wondering what was going on over there. 

Running helped other places grow familiar—the High Drive bluff trails that became part of my weekend route, the Riverside State Park trails I ran alongside a high school cross country team I briefly volunteered with, the relentless, steady uphill through Lincoln Park that leads to a pond and sweeping city views.  

Running still feels like an escape from the duller parts of life—and I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of Spokane running routes. There’s always some new avenue or trail to check out, and always something slightly different about where I’ve been running for years. Spring brings more sunlight, more color, and more people out into the world, making it an ideal time to explore. Lately I’ve been including a stretch of the Ben Burr Trail into the loops I run from my house. The other day I crossed paths with a group of friends out hiking, a few dog walkers, and a mother and son running together. Then I encountered something as novel to me as marmots once were: a family out walking two goats. “That’s new,” I thought. What else, I wonder, will my running routes surprise me with this spring?

Running along the Spokane County Centennial Trail. // Photo by Jon Jonckers.