Curiosity + exploration = grounding oneself in a new place.
Distance: 8 miles
Weather: Sunny & Warm
An unexpected conference schedule change opened up at the last minute an hour and a half of unstructured free time...just enough time to explore the environs on and around the Duke University campus.
From the hotel/conference center, I run a circuitous loop that took me through the campus and downtown Durham. On campus, I ran past the Cameron Indoor Stadium, the storied basket ball arena. I had always heard that it was a small, raucous and intimate place to see college b-ball. I was really surprised at how small it looked from the outside. Super intimate. From the stadium, I ran through the old campus and was impressed with the beauty of the gothic buildings and mature trees.
I soon found myself on a gravel path cruising by a pond in the beautiful Sarah P. Duke Gardens, an exquisitely maintained botanic garden right on the edge of campus. I then ran along a winding road, under the highway and into the Brightleaf and Warehouse Districts. I ran past all the restored warehouses and their happenin' restaurants and into the downtown area, with its mix of office buildings (including several really cool-looking art deco gems), hotels and city and county buildings.
After a quick loop through the biz district, I went downhill, over the tracks and stopped for a peek into the Durham Bulls minor league baseball stadium. I made my way back to the campus via a slew of streets through some rough-looking neighborhoods.
Thankfully, I did this run carrying a tourist map in my hand. I got a good feel for the general lay-out of the area and the relationship between the location of downtown and the campus. This place has a nice feel, but the stark contrast between the campus with its manicured perfection and some of the nearby neighborhoods is arresting.