New race previews wonderful waterfront to come

Like a number of great things in life, it starts with a bang and ends with a beer.

After work on Thursday, in advance of a long holiday weekend, I will run (and maybe walk) at a blistering 9-minute mile pace in the Wrong Side of the Tracks race on my way to a cold beverage at Edgewater Brewery.

To be candid, I am not a runner. I don’t aspire to be a runner. I don’t care for running. I’m not built to run. And I’m not going to make a habit of this sort of thing. That is to say, if I am going to do this, anybody can do it.

Here is the idea: Instead of going home after work on Thursday, you slip on the sneakers, come down to the Sentinel building for a 6 p.m. firecracker start. The run is a chip-timed 5k race, with prizes to the winners.

But for me, it’s just a way to feel like I’ve earned a beer at the end of the day for doing something other than sit in my office all day. Plus, there will be live reggae music, swag bags, lawn games and general tomfoolery. There will also be a lawn race among several local mascots. It will be fun.

And get used to it. South downtown — or as some people refer to it, LoJo (lower Junction) — is poised for a renaissance.

Actually, “renaissance” implies that LoJo was once a fun, happening place. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. When I moved to town, I found it bewildering that the community had ceded the area where the state’s two biggest rivers converge to a vagrant shantytown. Before that, it was storage for uranium mill tailings.

No longer. The development of Los Colonias park is coming. Imagine manicured grass, a trimmed shoreline, a musical amphitheater, connecting ponds, a meandering trail and amenities like a disc golf course (which is actually already in place).

We will finally put to use what is arguably the best waterfront in the state.

Development in the area will soon follow.  Edgwater Brewery was the pioneer, making an early and bold jump into the area. Its success in that location shows that people are hungry for more business offerings in the southern downtown area.

The Wrong Side of the Tracks run — obviously a tongue-in-cheek title from a company that resides on the south of the tracks — will wind runners south on Seventh Street, past the Botanical Gardens, through Watson Island, east along the Riverfront Trail and back to the Edgewater.

Runners will get a flavor for what will be in LoJo. And if commercial development follows the public’s investment in Los Colonias park (as it has in virtually every other community that has made such an investment), we on the south side of the tracks may no longer be on the wrong side.

We invite you to come experience LoJo. The run is five klicks — just over three miles. Easy cheesy.

Lace up.


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