A Placemaking Journal

Wilmington, NC: Active living and running buddies

Ever have trouble going out for a run? Know how much easier that gets when your good friend hits the road with you? Partly because you’re talking, partly because you’re just happy to see each other.

This week in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, doing some rezoning work for a community just across the river, I had the same experience, but without the person. It reminded me of when I first met my friend, Jim, years ago. Back then I thought I couldn’t run, because of the usual aches and pains that come from getting started. Our first run together, he ran backwards because I was running so slowly.

With good company and mentorship, I was soon running longer distances. When I run now, I often hear Jim’s instructions, “Relax your hands to hip level.” “Hello friend stitch.” “Lengthen that stride.” “Most emotions are based in either fear or love. Learn to love the run.”

I rarely missed an early morning run because I knew he’d show up at my front door, and insist that I go. Larger groups of our friends would get together every Saturday for long runs and before long a much higher level of activity became a lifestyle and logging 25 miles a week an achievable goal.

This week in Wilmington, I feel that same set of pulls, but this time from a great city instead of a great friend. Regardless of how late we’ve stayed up in the charrette studio the night before, it feels like the city knocks on my door and beckons until I get up.

Reminds me of my recent ruminations on the Healthy Place Index, and how great places tempt us to live more outdoors. So meet my running buddy for the week — Wilmington, North Carolina — through this lovely set of photos by Andrew von Maur.

Here’s to all of us doing what we can to nurture more walkable — and runable — places that make for healthy, happy people.

Hazel Borys

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