Tour de Salisbury: 12 courses, 75 miles, and plenty of friends and scenery

Sun rising over the ocean at Assateague.
I actually got up to see the sunrise — what? (Vanessa Junkin photo)

From getting up for a sunrise at Assateague to making new friends, I had a lot of fun during the second year of the Tour de Salisbury. To complete the Tour de Salisbury, runners use Strava segments to log 12 legs in areas in and around Salisbury during June and July. The legs can be completed in any order, and participants can also re-run legs.

People can compete for podium spots, but many of us were just in it for the fun and challenge of completing the Tour. My total time for the Tour, which is about 75 miles, was 17:04:23 — which was faster than last year’s Tour, which I ran in 17:28:02. I also ran with more people this year, since I’ve been vaccinated and last year I was more worried about COVID-19 because vaccines were not yet available.

Seven legs were the same as last year (Pemberton Park, Naylor Mill, Trap Pond, Blackwater Loop, OC Boardwalk, Salisbury University and Assateague) and five were new (Bennett Mile, Crisfield, Pateywoods, The Salisburian and Chincoteague). I like running in different places around the area, so the only place I’d never run prior to this year’s Tour de Salisbury was Pateywoods, which I’d never heard of.

I’ll write about how my legs went, in the order I did them…

I ran the Bennett Mile three times (twice for real speed).

Leg 3 – Bennett Mile: 1 mile – 8:27

I started off the first day of the Tour de Salisbury with two legs (I wrote this sentence… then realized it sounded like I’d lost a leg — but two running leg segments). First up was the Bennett Mile, which I’ve actually already been running at the beginning of each month. I headed to Bennett Middle School in the morning to get the mile in before work, and my time for the segment was 8:38. I had 8:41 based on when I stopped my watch, and this was my slowest 1600-meter run of the year for speed so far, but it was still a fast run for me.

I returned to Bennett Middle on July 2 to run my July 1600 and try again for the segment. I knew it was likely to be raining, but I thought the cooler weather would be nice. However, I didn’t account for the fact that there would be puddles to run through on the track. My segment time was 9:41, but I knew I had to go back again for my July time.

I went back after work that day and was able to improve my segment time to 8:27. That was right in line with some of the other 1600s I have run this year (the photo says 8:31 because I’ve been using the time on my watch for all of my 1600s this year).

Large group of runners with trees in the background.
There was a great group out at Pemberton! If I’m remembering correctly, the photo is by Lara Nieberding.

Leg 1 – Pemberton Park: 3.9 miles – 50:52

Packet pickup for the event was held at Pemberton Park the evening of June 1. I let the Eastern Shore Running Club know I’d be running with a group at Pemberton at 6 p.m. instead of our normal group run at the Salisbury City Park, and many ESRC members joined in for the run. I had a nice run with Melissa Bolich and ran a time of 55:59 for the segment.

Since Pemberton is close and also one of the shorter legs, I went out to Pemberton three more times, running the leg two more times (for a total of three). On my third attempt, it was hot, I wasn’t going to beat my time and I had places to be, so I cut the run short.

For my second attempt, on July 9, I ran the course alone in 52:40 and realized I wasn’t too far off my fastest time for the segment (52:04 on July 25, 2020). I returned to run Pemberton the morning of July 23 with my new friend Diana Schultz (who I first met during the Naylor Mill leg) and with her help, I was able to run 50:52 (12:55/mile, although my watch had me run well beyond the end of the segment to get the distance).

Vanessa Junkin posing in running clothes in the forest.
After completing Naylor Mill, I went back in — to get a photo.
Here I am after completing the Ocean City Boardwalk leg.

Leg 2 – Naylor Mill: 3.5 miles – 1:18:06

I headed out for my third leg of the Tour during the first week, on June 4. Carla Owens had organized a group to meet at the Naylor Mill Forest Trail for this tough and windy leg. Even though it’s only 3.5 miles, I expected the run to take a decent amount of time. It’s the hilliest place I know of in the Salisbury area, with lots of single-track trails. There was a nice group out, and I finished the segment in 1:18:06, which is a 21:43 pace. We all did the same thing, but I was one of only a couple or a few who got the segment.

There was definitely a decent amount of walking involved, and I also fell (but was not hurt). I thought about doing this one again, but didn’t make it out there for a second time. All of my past runs on this segment have been in the 15-through-17-something-minute range, aside from the Naylor Mill 7K in 2017, in which I ran the course in a 13:57 pace. It’s a hard one to go fast on.

A view from the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Leg 7 – OC Boardwalk: 4.4 miles – 52:47

I continued a strong first week with the Ocean City Boardwalk leg with Veronica James on June 5. Although it was a shorter run, I really struggled in the heat — and we started the run at 8:25 a.m. — not too late! Even though it was a struggle, my time of 52:47 for the segment (11:46 pace) was much faster than my time on the segment in 2020, when I ran 1:01:25. After our run, we got breakfast at Bayside Skillet — yum!

Leg 11 – Chincoteague: 10.5 miles – 2:05:18

I took advantage of a cooler summer day on June 12 and met up with a group that Race Dictator (yes, that’s right) Trent Swanson organized for this day. He was actually completing his 12th leg in the first 12 days.

The run began at 7 a.m., which was an early start, leaving from Salisbury that morning, but it was worth it. I was actually on the podium for a bit, but of course, that didn’t last. The course starts at the Island Nature Trail, which I didn’t know about, and goes through town to the beautiful wildlife refuge. I’d run at the refuge and in town before, but it had been several years, so it was nice to go back.

For most of the run, I was with Trent and Woody Disharoon. We were keeping up a faster pace than I would have expected for myself, and I did end up having to take some walk breaks, which Woody joined me for. I was happy to end up with a segment time of 2:05:18, an 11:55/mile pace. I wanted to make this into a beach day, but it was overcast and it had started to rain. I ended up getting an iced coffee and a doughnut from Mister Whippy before heading home (it was too early for tacos or ice cream). I came home with tons of mosquito bites.

Here I am posing by the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge sign.

Leg 6 – Blackwater Loop: 6.6 miles – 1:31:04

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to run. It’s really not near much, but I ran at Blackwater “on my way” to see my family across the bridge, which meant I ended up starting my run just before 4:30 p.m. June 19. It was hot, and I did a run-walk, as I’ve been doing a lot this summer, but I did enjoy the scenery. My segment time was 1:31:04 (13:44/mile), just a little slower than last year’s 1:30:00.

I really wanted some ice cream afterward. I wanted to go to a local place, but by the time I got back into town, they were closed, so I enjoyed a cone from Dairy Queen.

Last year, I had a terribly hot run and I also added on mileage going to and from a parking area, so I was glad the visitor center parking lot was open this year.

Vanessa Junkin posing in running clothes after finishing a 15K. Text reads 9.33 mi, 1:56:23 and 12:28/mi, with "Distance," "Time" and "Pace" underneath.
Here I am after finishing the Crisfield leg and my virtual 15K.

Leg 4 – Crisfield: 9.0 miles – 1:53:57

My leg at Crisfield, an out-and-back on the rail trail now called the Terrapin Run Trail, doubled as my virtual Cascade Run Off Redux 15K. I figured since a 15K is just over nine miles and this leg was on a paved path with little traffic, it would be a great location for the virtual run. I saw some fellow Tourists/friends out there as well, but I did my own thing as I didn’t know how the virtual race would end up. Read more about my virtual race here. My segment time was 1:53:57 (12:33/mile).

Rural road with trees on both sides.
Here’s a view from the rural Pateywoods course. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Leg 8 – Pateywoods: 12.3 miles – 2:52:08

When I saw it was going to be a nice Saturday on July 3, I figured I would get up early and run the longest leg of the Tour. I posted in advance to see if anyone wanted to join, as I knew this was a long, rural leg, and a pretty big group took advantage of the weather with me and joined me for this run.

It was great that many of the runners who came were also around my pace, and we did two-minute-run/one-minute-walk intervals, which worked great and helped pass the time. As I mentioned, this course in Newark, Maryland, was the only one I hadn’t run before, and I enjoyed seeing new scenery. It was nice, though I could see how it would be a lonely one to do alone. My segment time was 2:52:08 (13:54/mile).

Selfie of Vanessa Junkin posing with fire hydrant.
Here I am with the signature fire hydrant of the Salisbury University course.

Leg 10 – Salisbury University: 6.2 miles – 1:26:46

After getting up early the prior two days for the Pateywoods leg and an Eastern Shore Running Club Fourth of July run, I decided to sleep in on the third day of my three-day weekend on July 5. I made it out to the start of the Salisbury University course and started my run at 12:12 p.m.

So, it was extremely hot, as would be expected just after noon, and and I covered the segment in 1:26:46, a 14:00 pace. I did run-walk intervals, which, as I mentioned, I’ve been doing for almost every run this year. I thought about running this one again, but again, I didn’t make it out there.

Group of runners posing by North Salisbury Elementary sign.
My group for The Salisburian.

Leg 9 – The Salisburian: 7 miles – 1:30:57

I posted about a group run for The Salisburian and had a nice group join me July 10 for this run around the roads of Salisbury that starts and ends at North Salisbury Elementary and goes through the Newtown neighborhood, into Downtown and out to Deer’s Head. I enjoyed this course, and the many turns kept it interesting. It also wasn’t the hottest day. We even had our own traffic control from Richard Majors. Again, I did run-walk intervals, and my segment time was 1:30:57 (12:58/mile).

Group of runners in selfie on the beach.
My Assateague group: Bob (taking selfie), Carol, Karla, Lisa and me.

Leg 12 – Assateague: 7 miles – 1:36:49

Despite the pretty scenery, I’d kind of been dreading Assateague because I had a terrible run for this segment last year. It seemed to take forever, I couldn’t decide whether to wear shoes on the sand, and I even lost a sock. However, this year, starting at sunrise and running with a group made a huge difference, and I really enjoyed the run this year. I also wore my new trail shoes, which helped provide some traction on the sand.

My group again did intervals and it was so nice to see the sunrise while running along the beach. It was actually worth leaving the house before 5 a.m. — and that’s saying a lot for me! I wouldn’t have been able to get up for such an early run without meeting a group. The course includes paved trails, the Verrazano bridge, about three miles of sand, and a wooded trail. My segment time was 1:36:49 (13:50/mile), much faster than last year’s time of 2:00:36 (17:14/mile).

Vanessa Junkin posing with Tour de Salisbury bib in front of Trap Pond Boat Launch sign.
I finished the tour at Trap Pond State Park (Diana Schultz photo).

Leg 5 – Trap Pond: 4.5 miles – 57:12

My last leg of the Tour de Salisbury was Trap Pond. I met Diana at her house, and we carpooled to the park, which is in Laurel, Delaware, and offers a nice loop trail. I hadn’t been having problems with my shins, but I ended up having terrible shin pain during this run (which thankfully seems to have gone away as quickly as it came on). She had already done the segment and was super nice about it, walking as much as I needed to. I ended with a segment of 1:10:22, a 15:29 pace. Diana took finisher photos for me, but I hated to end on this note — it wasn’t really about the time, but about how I felt.

Diana joined me for my second Trap Pond run of the Tour on Tuesday, July 27. I was able to go into work a few hours late because I’d worked the previous Saturday. We did intervals, and I was able to take 13 minutes off my time because my leg didn’t hurt. My segment time was 57:12 (12:35/mile, though I did need to run past the end to get the full mileage for the segment). It felt nice to be able to redo this one.

In addition to all these awesome routes, Tour de Salisbury runners received a T-shirt, race bib to fill out and stickers. There is also a finisher ticket that finishers will receive.

This year’s Tour de Salisbury was even better than last year, primarily because I got to run with more friends than I did last year. I enjoy running in different areas and I can’t wait to see what the legs are for 2022!

Vanessa Junkin poses in blue Tour de Salisbury shirt with completed race bib.
Here I am in my Tour de Salisbury shirt with my completed bib.

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