November 22, 2010

Burning River

"Some River! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface
gases, it oozes rather than flows. 'Anyone who falls into the
Cuyahoga does not drown,' Cleveland's citizens joke grimly.
'He decays.'" - Time Magazine, 8/1/69
We'll begin with a brief history lesson.  The Cuyahoga River is the major river that runs through the heart of Cleveland.  It's best known for being, at one point, one of the most polluted rivers in the country and catching fire in 1969.  (In fact, it is reported to have caught fire 9 other times before that.)  The outrage over the last fire was influential in sparking a slew of environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act, and helping to instigate the Environmental Movement.

Today, the phrase "burning river" rarely refers directly to the Cuyahoga.  Most Clevelanders would think first of the delicious Great Lakes Brewery pale ale, Burning River.  As with all great breweries, they have a great sense of humor and the label on the bottle depicts the skyline of Cleveland with flames in the foreground.  [shrug]  We think it's funny.  If you haven't tried Great Lakes beer and you find yourself in the area, it's amazing.  They win awards every year.  As a bonus, they're environmentally friendly, use predominantly local produce & other foods in their restaurant and are dedicated to sustainability.  I plan on drinking my fill of their Christmas ale once the California International Marathon is behind me.  DE-licious!  Notably, the brewery also hosts a Burning River Fest every summer that promotes "eco-consciousness" and raises money for a local non-profit that works to preserve the Cuyahoga.

As runners, you may have also heard of the Burning River 100 held at the end of July.  The course runs through many of the national parks found in the Cleveland area.  I didn't start running seriously until long after moving away, so I've never seen the race.  I will say, however, that merely looking at the maps makes my legs hurt.

The reason I bring all of this up is because I was running along the Cuyahoga in the Cleveland Metroparks yesterday.  Despite it's filthy history, the river is much cleaner these days and the parks are beautiful.  There's a huge network of national parks in town, many of which were created in response to the pollution to preserve what wilderness remains.  I actually had to cut myself off from taking more pictures so I could get in a quality long run.  Enjoy!

As much as I don't love carrying a camera on runs, it certainly keeps me aware of the beauty around me.  Where do you run and what is it's history?  Run past anything beautiful, hideous, or hilarious recently?


  1. I think the Cuyahoga is a-ok these days...

    I run by the Huntington Beach pier a lot and see beauty, hideousness, and hilarity all mixed together every time. I also see the original skateboarding bulldog quite a bit, you may have seen him on TV...

  2. My long run tends to include the Euclid Creek portion of the Metroparks. That's a heck of a hill right there!

  3. Great pictures!

    I run in the national parks around here. Trail enough so I feel outdoorsy, but mild enough that I don't fall flat on my face every 3 seconds.

  4. I an past a strip mall the other day. It looked like you would expect. No picture necessary, I think.

  5. Very pretty area. Glad they got it all cleaned up!

  6. Great pictures and great idea! I run on a road that goes through an old coal mine that Crested Butte owes it's exsitence to. The trail that follows is pure black anthracite in some spots.

  7. I ran past a guy riding on a unicycle the other day. Talk about strange!!

  8. Cool pictures! We run a lot of different places, but mostly on a paved trail than runs almost 30 miles, I believe. It's pretty and away from traffic, so that's nice! Of course, it's dark a lot of time when we're running so I don't get to enjoy seeing too much but I do love seeing the sun rise!