No Running Allowed Says a Tennessee Town

No running allowed….on the trails?! In a mind-boggling decision that caused me to re-read the title three times, a town near Nashville has banned trail running from the trails in a newly-formed outdoor park.

The 400-acre Marcella Vivrette Smith Park in Brentwood, Tennessee opened last month to much local excitement. The former farm features six miles of dirt trails that public officials have proclaimed to be off-limits to trail runners. According to Runner’s World, Kirk Bednar, Brentwood’s city manager, said that the 3/4 mile paved trail by the entrance is fine for runners. He also mentioned that the city has an extensive network of trails for runners to use….all of which are paved.

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Heidi enjoying the trails at Marshall Mesa. PC: Will Rochfort

And what is Brentwood’s logic in this decision? According to Competitor, Bednar cites safety concerns. “Right now our our No. 1 concern is the safety of the folks, especially when it comes to hazards on the trails. Right now this is the first time we’ve had a park of this kind in terms of the natural types of running trails and the trip hazards associated with that, and we’re really trying to be conservative with the use of those trails with how widely used they’re going to be.”

As you can imagine, locals are up in arms about the decision. A Facebook group, Runners for Ravenswood, has been formed and they are none to happy about the decision. Ryan Carter, a Nashville local and 4-time ultra runner, is equally frustrated with the situation. “To have someone tell me I can’t exercise the way I want to exercise irritates me to no end. So I can walk but I can’t run?” Carter also notes that nearby Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks only have minimal trails available, making his ultra training difficult. “If I was running 10ks, the available trails would be fine. But if I’m trying to cover 15-20 miles at a time, I’ve gotta do a ton of loops and string together a ton of different routes. It gets boring but it’s the only option we have.”

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Huge thanks to Jason Gebauer for this photo of me running at the FlatIrons Vista Trail outside of Boulder

And truthfully, I can’t say that I blame Carter and the other angry locals. Sure, park officials said they would reevaluate the policy in a year, but that seems unreasonable. While I appreciate the city’s position in regards to liability and safety concerns, I feel like this is a tad dramatic. Not to put Colorado out there as some paragon of outdoor park etiquette, but we have hundreds of parks here that are multiuse, and most of them are divided among hikers, trail runners, equestrians and mountain bikers. And it works. 

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Another fantastic snap of me enjoying a multi-use trail outside of Boulder. PC: Jason Gebauer

Personally, I found it incredibly irritating when Bednar was quoted as saying, “In theory, runners and hikers can coexist.” In theory? No, sir, it’s in practice. And truthfully, that practice is enacted all over the country.

There have been some trails in Colorado where the biking becomes a problem, but instead of banning one type of athleticism, the city came up with an alternating use schedule. For example, Centennial Cone, a popular park near Denver, split the weekend days for 2014. Hikers/runners had the even days while mountain bikers had the odd days. Sure, it required more planning but everyone made it work. If Brentwood is adamant that the trails can’t be shared, why not come up with a schedule so everyone can grab a small piece of the pie?

{I won’t even address that hikers and trail runners were grouped together for this schedule…}

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Hiking at North Table Mountain. This trail is shared between hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers just fine! PC: Will Rochfort

My point? In the end, we all want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine on our face. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hiker, biker, walker, runner, or even a four-legged horse. Trails are meant for everyone and human decency guides us so that we are able to share these trails so that we can all enjoy them. Let’s not segregate that.

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Sound off! What are your thoughts on this decision? Is this city onto something or is this absurd?

22 Comments

  • Reply katie at

    Seriously!? I just can’t imagine. It shouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t understand the decision. Silly.

  • Reply Debbie @ Live from La Quinta at

    What a weird decision. And pretty unenforceable too. Will they have jogging police on the trails? At what speed does a fast walk become a jog, become a run? Just silly. I don’t blame people for being upset. I don’t think it is even constitutional. Doesn’t the Constitution protect my right to achieve happiness? (joking a little here, but still)

  • Reply Angela @ Happy Fit Mama at

    I saw this article and was just baffled. In a nation that is severely inactive, we are now having rules and regulations about how a trail is used? Way to encourage healthy living, Brentwood! And do they really think runners are going to tear it up more so than a mountain bike or a walker? Just ridiculous!

  • Reply Christy@ My Dirt Road Anthem at

    Oh my goodness that is insanely stupid! Sounds like idiocy at its best. Love all your beautiful pictures. I was so impressed with the extensive trails around Colorado when I was there. If I had to move somewhere Colorado would be a good candidate.

  • Reply Allie at

    This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard! How ignorant. My question is – what are they going to do if you run? What’s the penalty? I guess they have to catch you first.

  • Reply CARLA at

    SAD SAD SAD
    no no no.
    :/

  • Reply Pamela Hernandez at

    I think it’s very unfair to ban running. There is room for compromise so everyone can enjoy the trails.

  • Reply RFC at

    Wait, I’m utterly confused. So the trails are for hiking ONLY? Are there trail police out there that will cite you if you are deemed to be going “too fast” , thus no longer hiking and now running? I’m just…baffled.

  • Reply Kovas - Midwest Multisport Life at

    Is the “ultra shuffle” running or hiking fast? 🙂

    Strange that they wouldn’t try it for a year and then enact the ban if needed.

  • Reply misszippy at

    Ridiculous, plain and simple! I can’t see the logic in it, at all. I’d probably be out there breaking the rules…

  • Reply Al at

    I am very active, whether it be by hiking / running / climbing / biking / etc. Being from Nashville, I can see this a bit differently. It’s true: There aren’t many options for runners in the Nashville area for longer dirt trails. Most of the larger parks are either an hour or more from the city, or they are paved. I dislike it as much as the next person, but it’s important to remember that Nashville, and the surrounding areas are extremely family-friendly. I think the reasoning behind the “no running” is simply to encourage the less active to get out and just walk, but not feel confined to the pavement. Would I love to see Nashville become more like the western states in regard to trails and outdoor activities? Of course. It is realistic, considering the demographics and goal of the city? Not yet. I am happy to know that the issue will be revisited in a year or so, but for now, I am simply content with more outdoor options within a reasonable distance. Looking at it from both sides is very necessary for this particular article / issue.

    • Reply Dave at

      Having recently relocated from Chattanooga to Salt Lake City I think this is insane. Placing a restriction (or not placing a restriction on this) won’t promote people getting out on the trails. We had city parks in Tennessee that were prime location for people to “just get out and enjoy”. They very rarely did, and when they did all other runners (and mountain bikers, and hikers) were courteous and civil in no way discouraging the use of the trails for all. If I were a runner in Nashville struggling to have trails to run, I’d be a bit ticked.

    • Reply Laura at

      How does banning running encourages others to go out and walk? Or to look at it the opposite way: why would runners discourage others from walking?

  • Reply Betsy at

    This is ridiculous! If I lived there I would be very upset about it…..and probably running on them any ways.

  • Reply Heather @ FITaspire at

    WOW. How is this real. Absolutely ridiculous.

  • Reply Ryan Carter at

    I’m from Nashville. I love this city so much that not even Denver and San Fran, with all their outdoorsey options, can lure me away. Trust me, I’ve tried.

    To me, this issue is black and white. You either side with the city of Brentwood or you side with the runner’s.

    How absurd would it be if the city of Brentwood made the opposite decision? These trails are only for running. No hikers allowed. The same reasoning that is infuriating runners across America would also infuriate walkers.

    Nashville and surrounding cities offer one option for trail running on non-paved surfaces. Percy Warner and Edwin Warner are the only options. When it’s great weather, the trails are very crowded. But that’s ok. I’m glad that families and groups of people are being active and enjoying nature. Everything about it is family friendly.

    To Al, that is from Nashville, I’m disappointed that you think revisiting the issue in a year is acceptable. It’s not a complicated issue. Runners and walkers share side walks, roads, paved and non-paved trails all the time. This is a no-brainer. I would even go as far as saying that there are side walk conditions in Brentwood that should be entirely avoided. Are we going to start putting signs at sidewalks saying, “no running”? If it’s that dangerous, then walkers shouldn’t be allowed on it either and it should be fixed.

    There’s also no encouraging the “less active” to get out and be active. You think designing a park that has strenuous trail conditions is really going to make the lazy want to be active? LOL! Oh but how are the walkers going to feel when they get passed by a physically fit person enjoying their afternoon by running?! Let’s cater to everyone’s feelings then. Let’s create trails for people that want to walk. And another for people that want to run. And another for families only. And another for singles with dogs that are on Tinder. And another for…. you get my point.

    Runners and walkers should coexist. Didn’t all runners at some point start off by walking? Hell, even I go for hikes/walks to recover from a 20 mile trail run. The only reason there would be any animosity is due to one group or the other having a sense of entitlement. And look where it’s gotten the city of Brentwood and Tennessee as a whole. Open it up to everyone and you’ll be quite surprised how things will naturally work themselves out.

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    This is crazy. There’s got to be more too this or politics involved….or something!

  • Reply Laura at

    You find the BEST news stories with interesting controversies! I don’t see ANY reason why running would be banned, and am completely puzzled by this. Is there ANY rationale given for why they would do such a thing? Yes, there are two sides to every story, but I genuinely don’t see a second side to this one at all.

    That said, I don’t like the inclusion of Ryan Carter’s comments – I don’t think the whole city should have to cater to the demands of an ultrarunner, and it seems selfish for him to focus on that.

    • Reply Ryan Carter at

      I think you missed my point entirely. I was referring to the few options our city has to run on trails and even the ones we do have are very short. We already have another set of trails at Radnor that are also off limits to running. I’m not asking anyone to cater to an ultramarathoner. That’s a little ridiculous and I don’t see where I came across that way. I would just like the trails we do have to allow running and I don’t think that’s being selfish at all.

      • Reply Laura at

        Sorry, Ryan, didn’t mean it to come across as an attack! I totally agree that you should be able to run on any trail that’s also designated for walking/biking/etc. It might have just been the way it was taking out of context, but I meant the second part of the quote where you were talking about how it was boring to loop around and how it makes training for ultramarathoners difficult. But like I said, I totally agree with your plight – hopefully Heather’s post brings some attention to it and puts pressure on the officials to change these dumb rules!

        • Reply Ryan Carter at

          Oh absolutely, the part about having to run a hamster wheel on trails kinda stinks. I’m coming from a different place than a lot of other folks in Nashville. Since I moved to Nashville in 2003, we’ve only had one trail running option in the Nashville area. Needless to say, I sometimes cringe at having to go run trails because it’s been 10years of the same. exact. trail. Luckily, there’s a lot of great areas to run on the road! 🙂 Thank you for the reply!

  • Reply Sport und Fitnessblogs am Sonntag, 23.11.2014 at

    […] Ich bin mir ja schon gewohnt, dass immer wieder einmal absurde Gesetze eingeführt werden. Dass in Tennessee in einem Park nun das Rennen verboten wurde (Walken ist aber erlaubt) erstaunt mich genauso wie Colorado Girl.  […]

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