2019 Running Travels: Thanks to MATPRA, I got to explore more of Va.’s Richmond Region

James River with a bridge in the background and some grassy areas and rocks in the river.
Here’s a view of the James River in Richmond, Virginia. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

This September marked my fourth MATPRA Media Marketplace, and it’s an event I always enjoy. It’s an annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance, and representatives of destination marketing organizations get to interact with travel writers.

A path made of grates above a pipeline is shown from above.
The Pipeline was a unique path in Richmond that I doubt I would have found on my own. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Since I am a marketing and public relations manager with Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism, I attend as a representative of Wicomico County.

Something I love about MATPRA, and the Marketplace in particular, is a chance to explore different places in the Mid-Atlantic. Since I love running in new places, I also make time to run in these destinations. Between the Marketplaces and quarterly meetings, I’ve run in Pennsylvania’s Greater Americana Region, the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Arlington, Va., Winchester, Va., and Wilmington, Del.

The latest MATPRA Media Marketplace was held in Virginia’s Richmond Region. I had been to Richmond before — I ran the Richmond Marathon in 2017 and blogged about a previous run in Richmond here — but I got to see new-to-me spots in the region and even got to run with a fellow MATPRA attendee.

Vanessa poses for a photo on a trail at Deep Run Park.
Here I am at Deep Run Park in Henrico County, Virginia.

I arrived in the Richmond Region on Tuesday, Sept. 25. This was coming off a busy few days, including the Pemberton 24 followed by hosting a group of travel writers.

I didn’t get a chance to run that day, but I ran twice the following day. In the morning, I didn’t have much time — I’m certainly not a morning person, and I also wanted to run when it was light out — so I ran three miles, starting and ending at the hotel, the Hilton Richmond Short Pump Hotel & Spa. I thought it would be fun to run through the nearby outdoor mall, the Short Pump Town Center. I learned that you aren’t allowed to run there before the mall opens (or after it closes), so don’t do that!

Later in the day, I had a little bit less than a two hour break between my FAM tour — in which I’d volunteered at Shalom Farms — and dinner. I’d seen a park that was about 14 minutes away while looking at one of my map apps: Deep Run Park.

A view of a paved trail at Deep Run Park with plenty of trees.
Here’s a view of a paved trail at Deep Run Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Deep Run Park

I quickly changed, went to my car, drove to the park and got a run in. It wasn’t my fastest run, because I was stopping to take photos and wasn’t really trying to go fast. I followed paved trails, and when I felt like I was near the end of the first bit, I saw the recreation center sign I’d seen before, so I knew I hadn’t gone too far.

I continued and made a loop around a pond. I then ended up following an unpaved trail and figured I’d turn around when I got to two miles. However, right around that time, I saw someone coming from the other direction, so I figured it had to connect. I took a chance, and it did make a loop.

View of a lake and fountain at Deep Run Park, with a bridge to the right in the foreground.
Here’s a view from the loop around the pond at Deep Run Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There were some hills at this park, too!

I could have ended with 2.5 miles, but instead, I decided to pick it up for the last half mile so I could end with a total of three — six miles for the day, including my morning run. I then got back in my car, showered and got ready for dinner.

Unpaved trail at Deep Run Park with lots of trees.
Here’s a view from an unpaved section at Deep Run Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

At dinner that evening, I ended up sitting next to a runner, Annie. I’d mentioned I was planning to run Thursday after the conference before heading home, and we decided to run together. It’s so nice how runners basically make instant friends.

Downtown Richmond

Annie and I met Thursday afternoon at a parking lot on Tredegar Street near the American Civil War Museum, and it was great to have her as a tour guide. We went up some ramps and traveled across the James River on a footbridge, making our way to Belle Isle.

Path at Belle Isle underneath a bridge.
Here’s a view from Belle Isle. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There were all kinds of surfaces, including some trail areas and a rocky section. We also ran on a flood wall, making our way back to the other side of the James River.

As we neared the end of the run, we made our way onto a thin grate-surface walkway with rails on both sides called The Pipeline. It was such a unique place to run and offered some cool views of the river.

Rocky water view that can be seen from Belle Isle.
Here’s another view from Belle Isle, with ruins off to the right. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Earlier in the week, I’d been thinking about doing my long run on this day, but it turned out to be a sweltering day and I struggled to get the just under four miles that we completed. The King of Pops was nearby, and we got popsicles afterward.

Powhatan State Park

I didn’t get a chance to run at Powhatan State Park, but I did get to explore a little bit of the park’s trails during my Thursday FAM tour. I turned on my watch, so I saw that we hiked about 0.8 mile — 0.4 out and 0.4 back. The trail was beautiful, and I asked one of the rangers how many miles of trails were at the park. The answer was 10 miles.

Powhatan State Park unpaved trail with plenty of trees surrounding it.
Here’s a trail at Powhatan State Park. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Although it was a hike, the part of the trail that we walked was not technical or hilly. I don’t think it would have been a difficult run. While at the park, I also got to try archery for the first time.

I set a goal to travel to at least one new-to-me place for a run each month of 2019. Here are the other places I’ve traveled to for runs this year:

View of the pipeline grate path over the James River.
Here’s another view of The Pipeline. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

What are your favorite places to run in the Mid-Atlantic?

Vanessa and Annie pose for a selfie.
Here I am with Annie after we finished our run.

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