Health column: 8 great places to go for a run on the North Fork


“My mother taught me very early to believe I could achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first was to walk without braces.”

Those words come from Wilma Rudolph, winner of three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics, who went from wearing braces on her legs to becoming likely the fastest woman in the world in her time. I’ll be honest, I don’t see any gold medals in my own future. But I do think her words send a strong message to any runner out there: You can do it, so long as you believe you can.

The question is, where are the best places to run? Where can you go to maybe inspire yourself a little bit more?

As a novice runner — and I use that phrase rather broadly — I asked around to get a few answers.

First and foremost are safety and preparation. It’s hard to run if you’re injured or trying to dodge traffic, so beyond the obvious requirements of stretching before heading out and wearing reflective gear at night, make sure you face oncoming traffic when you’re running and stick to roads with wide shoulders — or don’t run on roads at all.

Bob Beattie, president of Island Running Club — previously the East End Runners’ Club — suggested parks in the area that were created for the purpose of public enjoyment.

Beach runs at Indian Island County Park in Riverhead offer wide, wooded trails, not to mention frontage along Flanders Bay. On the north shore, Wildwood State Park in Wading River offers similar vistas of Long Island Sound as well as wooded trails — just be sure to spray for ticks if you run through the woods in the summer.

Riverhead Town has a paved trail around the former Grumman site in Calverton that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles, so while you may run into a bicyclist or two, the path — which is about six miles — is plenty safe. There’s also a smaller path near the baseball fields if you’re looking for a shorter route.

Farther east, the Laurel Lake Preserve offers wooded trails for cross country runners and Jill Schroeder of JABS in Cutchogue said she enjoys off-road trails at Soundview Avenue’s Sound View Dunes Park, which is owned by Southold Town.

Ms. Schroeder, who used to lead a running club of her own, also said you can’t go wrong running  along Oregon Road in Cutchogue, where traffic is typically pretty light and the farmland views are fabulous.

Shelter Island’s Mashomack Preserve, said Ms. Schroeder, is also “very serene, with different length trails you can take. You don’t have to worry about cars. Leave your iPod behind and just run, or walk, and enjoy the natural surroundings.”

Finally, those on the eastern tip of the island can catch a nice glimpse of the water at Orient Beach State Park, where 8 1/2 miles of water frontage abuts Gardiners Bay to the south and Orient Harbor to the north.

“Great for views,” Mr. Beattie said — not to mention the breeze.

Come to think of it, you can probably find nice views in dozens of places in our area. Hopefully, this will serve as a start and inspire you to discover more of your own great off-road running spots.

(Photo Credit: Charlene Simmons, Flickr)