The City Trails Loppet is a mix. It is challenging, with rocks and roots and even railroad tracks to circumnavigate around. There are narrow trails and hills. The trail goes under and over highways and interstates, and through old train yards. It starts in downtown Robbinsdale and finishes near downtown Minneapolis. Probably the one word to describe the City Trails Loppet is VARIETY. Narrow trails, city views, wooded corridors, railroad yards. Asphalt paths. All without crossing a road after the first mile in the 10K . . . and with only two road crossings in the 10 Mile.
Compared to the Surly Brewing Co. Trail Loppet the City Trails Loppet is going to be a little flatter. The point-to-point aspect means that most runners will encounter trails that they have never seen before.
The course is well-marked – with a combination of blue ribbons, blue arrows and flour used to draw directional lines on the ground. However, know that there are MANY intersections and runners are responsible for staying on course. To ensure that all runners stay on course and run the entire trail there are three checkpoints on the course – in undisclosed locations. Each runner must pass through all three checkpoints or they will be disqualified. If a runner goes off course he or she is well served in going back to the original spot where s/he left the course – or s/he risks missing a checkpoint and being disqualified.
The first mile takes runners from downtown Robbinsdale through Robbinsdale parks and residential neighborhoods. The next mile runs through Robbinsdale’s Sochacki Park and Golden Valley’s Mary Hills Nature Area, where runners will encounter a mostly-flat mix of narrow trails. From there the trail winds past a small pond, over railroad tracks, and under roads before winding up at the 45th parallel in Theodore Wirth Park. The next mile follows the narrow Dead Dog Trail and Tornado Alley, with the first aid station at 2.5 miles, near the Theodore Wirth Chalet.
The 10 Mile and 10K courses diverge after passing underneath Highway 55. The 10K passes through the old Glenwood Springs water plant and into the Bryn Mawr Meadows area before following railroad tracks to Bryn Mawr Park. Runners then head up and across an overpass that takes runners over the City of Minneapolis public works area, with a fantastic view of the downtown skyline. Coming off of the overpass runners merge onto the Cedar Lake Trail for a brief trot before joining up with the 10 Mile course again.
Picking up the 10 Mile course again – from the 5K mark, where the 10K and 10 Mile courses diverge – runners head back west along Bassett Creek and then over a boardwalk suspended above Wirth Lake. Next stop – the Quaking Bog area! Narrow trails, big hills, and maybe an angry fox or a giant gopher, waiting to devour slow or injured runners.
Runners who make it through the Bog will end up crossing Interstate 394 at about 7 miles, and then descending to Brownie Lake. Around Brownie and Cedar Lake, then Cedar Lake Park and back onto the Cedar Lake Trail, this section of trail is mostly flat, with a fast mix of wooded trails and asphalt paths.
With a little less than a mile to go the two courses re-merge. Runners head under Interstate 394 one final time, take one final section of gritty singletrack, and then head towards the Sculpture Garden for the grand finish at the Parade Stadium and enjoy a Surly Beer!