If you spend much time at Overton Park, chances are you’ve seen Rhodes College cross-country teams on training runs through the Old Forest. Coach Robert Shankman has been bringing teams to Overton Park for 23 years, and finds that his team appreciates the softer surfaces of the limestone gravel trail and primitive trails.
We caught up with Coach Shankman and his cross-country team last weekend as they prepared for an 8:00 a.m. tempo run, which is designed to help runners improve efficiency by increasing the body’s aerobic threshold. Coach Shankman knew exactly what pace each runner would need to run to achieve the desired effect. Surprisingly, most of his advice to specific runners was to hold back to the proper pace, not to “go sprinting off like a gazelle.”
Runners are some of Overton Park’s most loyal advocates, and our goal at the Overton Park Conservancy is to continue to improve conditions in the park so that more people are encouraged to discover the trails and find their own perfect pace – whether that’s a slow walk, a tempo run, or a sprint. Park Friends has championed this limestone trail project and spearheaded the fundraising campaign to support the renovation of the limestone running trail, and Coach Shankman and the team presented a check to Overton Park Conservancy for $5,000 toward this project. Donations are still needed and can be made via the Park Friends website.
Overton Park Conservancy is grateful to Rhodes College for their financial support, and for encouraging students to think about giving back to the places they hold dear. We hope that these runners look back fondly on their training runs at Overton Park, and that they continue visiting, and running here, for decades to come.