A Run Down Memory Lane: Manhattan, Kansas

This post is about a special run I had this week in Manhattan, Kansas.  I am still working on the post regarding the two pedometers I am reviewing.  I was surprised that one is completely useless, and the other good, but not great.  I failed to explain what piqued my interest though, and that both are worn on the wrist.  I will explain. My father is 79 years old and I am looking for a way to motivate him to walk more, and he agrees with me that the pedometer would be helpful.  We also thought that something worn on the wrist might be more user friendly for him.  However, I decided this week that I would continue to report “news” type stories as they occurred in order to preserve their timeliness.   Now about my return to the streets of Manhattan, Kansas, after an absence of 35 years.

We are currently in Denver staying in a wonderful house we found through Airbnb.  To get here we had to drive from Columbia, MO., and on the way out I wanted to take the opportunity  to stop in Manhattan, Kansas. It is a long story.

Man in running clothes standing in front of a house.

Me standing in front of the house where I lived with a bunch of KU students.

Years ago I lived at the corner of 12th and Vattier, right next to Aggieville, and about a block away from Kansas State University, while I was in the Army stationed at Ft. Riley. In this picture we had just arrived. It was an emotional moment for me.  Manhattan is where I met my running mentor, Arne Richards, and where I trained for two marathons and one ultramarathon (the first 50k held in Manhattan in 1979 which was the year I was discharged).

Aggieville is only a block and a half away, and my wife Jenifer  was gracious enough to camp there while my daughter Rachel ran with me. Aggieville is a small piece of real estate dense with businesses that cater to students from KU. It has character.  It is a great place with interesting restaurants, a theater that is still standing where I watched the first Rocky movie, and Varney’s Bookstore

Varney's Bookstore in Manhattan, Kansas

Varney’s Bookstore in Aggieville next to the KU campus.

which is still in business after all these years.  I used to shop at Varney’s and was delighted to see it was still standing, but disappointed that Brothers’s Tavern is no longer among the living.  I remember purchasing  a copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha at Varney’s.  This was also back when bookstores were more important, and before they unfortunately started becoming scarce with the advent of the internet and Amazon.

After making sure that Jenifer was settled in at Starbucks Rachel and I started our run. The first place  we headed for was “the hill” that Arne and I used to train on The hill is a steep quarter mile from the lowland areas to a ridge overlooking the town.

Girl in running clothes standing on a rock.

Rachel at the top of “the hill” at the Manhattan Country Club.

At the top of the hill is where the Manhattan Country Club is located and the view is spectacular.  Especially at night.  We used to sneak up there and run on the grass after dark, but otherwise we would just run up, enjoy the view, and then run down. Not all parts of Kansas are flat.  As a matter of fact, Manhattan is located in the Flint Hills which is very hilly, and, I think, beautiful.

We continued our run and then we just sort of meandered around the neighborhood where I used to live.  It was so enjoyable to go back there after all this time and remember old friends and old times.

Hilltop view of Manhattan Kansas.

View from the top of “the hill” overlooking Manhattan, Kansas.

I am  so thankful that Rachel, an accomplished runner in her own right (cross-country and track).  agreed to run with me.  It was nice being with her for this moment that was so rich with emotion, and especially to be able to share it with somebody.

Me running down "the hill," while Rachel takes my picture.  Thanks Rachel!

Me running down “the hill,” while Rachel takes my picture. Thanks Rachel!

After running through my old neighborhood we double-backed and ran back to Starbucks where Rachel joined her mother who with her usual patience was waiting for us.  After dropping Rachel off I continued my run on the KU campus.  Again, so many of the old landmarks and places were still there.

I was especially glad to see the outdoor  track was still standing, and that it was still open for anybody to come in and use.  I used to go there and do interval training.  So, I allowed myself a lap around the track for old times sake as well as a run up to the top for the view.  I had it all to myself, and as a matter of fact I only saw a handful of people while I was there.  The campus was practically deserted over the holiday break adding to the surreal feeling of the day.  Like so many of the other things I have mentioned it was good to see that the track was still there, and is even being rennovated.

The outdoor track at KU that is still open to the public.

The outdoor track at KU that is still open to the public.

Outdoor track and playing field at KU

Outdoor track at KU

I have to say that this was the most meaningful running experience I have ever had, and I have had a number of them.   To be able to go back to a place that is so rich with memories, from running and otherwise, and experience the atmosphere again, relive some of those times, was simply wonderful.

Before closing I want to give a special thanks to my wife and daughter for indulging me the time to revisit a special place and time.  Thank you so very much.

Two women in Starbucks.

My wife Jenifer, and my daughter Rachel. Two of the best people I know. Thank you for everything. I took this picture of them at the the table where they sit together after I dropped Rachel off before heading off by myself to run on the KU campus.

I do want to apologize for the quality of the pictures.  My waterproof camera case decreases the quality of the pictures my iphone takes.  As mentioned earlier I am still working on my review of the pedometers, and I am also working on a new story on Nordic, cross-country, skiing.  Today I had my first opportunity to try Nordic skiing.  It was not pretty, but I did manage three miles.

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