Run #8 – Marathon Completed!

On Saturday, June 8th nine runners and walkers crossed the finish line of the Three Month Marathon at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in portions of this marathon run. Each and every one of you helped to make the “slowest marathon ever” a success!

The path of our eighth and final run took the symbolic form of a figure 8, which is also an infinity sign. The run, curated by me, took us through the Browntown neighborhood surrounding the DCCA. The area is named after Dr. John Brown whose farm used to occupy the land before it was annexed by the city in 1896. Polish immigrants then moved into the area and created a bustling neighborhood that thrived into the 30s and 40s. When I-95 was built in the 1960s, Browntown was bisected and parts were cut off from the waterfront. This schism is still evident today. The redeveloped and sanitized riverfront side boasts office parks, high rise condos, dining and entertainment venues, and expansive parking lots while the Browntown side is a diverse residential neighborhood struggling with various issues including nuisance properties.

After running through both the Browntown and riverfront sides of I-95, we finished the marathon by passing underneath a finish line knitted by Carol Maurer. All participants were yarn-bombed with knitted medals (also by Carol) and received a Drift running club t-shirt. Wrapping up our final run, I was pleased to learn that many marathon participants had made new friends through the running club.

In the past three months I have had the opportunity to see Wilmington from many different viewpoints. I have met dozens of amazing people, I have learned about the history and geography of the city, and I have faced unexpected challenges as well. I began this project with an open mind, and I did not know how everything would take shape. This marathon relied on the creative participation of others, and for me, the project is not only about changing the terms of the marathon but also about sharing in its authorship. I created a situation in which I had to be vulnerable, to allow others into the making process, and to let the project unfold organically.

The ultimate product of the Three Month Marathon is not only the race but also the running club itself. When we joined together to create and run this marathon, we also formed relationships that became a core part of the artwork. The social nature of the project blurred the boundaries between the participants, the artwork, and the artist (myself) and imagines the possibility living as an art form.

I know that each participant came to the project with different expectations (to meet people, to learn about Wilmington, to exercise, etc.), had different experiences, and got something different out of it. My goal was to create a running club that was inclusive and welcoming and that allowed everyone the agency to direct their own experience. While the marathon is now complete, our newly formed friendships will stay with us and will inform our experiences in the future.

I would like to again thank everyone for your commitment and contributions to the Three Month Marathon. The project could not have happened without you, and I wish you all the best in your future running and walking endeavors. We did it!


Run #7 – Completed!

Our 7th run, hosted by Chris Golas, was all about the cycles of nature. Chris took us to a large scale composting facility that processes waste from all over the east coast (the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center) and explained the process of composting on a large scale. Chris used compost from the facility in his micro-farm at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, and the facility sells compost to landscapers and gardeners in the region.

The run took us from Christina Park to a more industrial area of the city that most of us had only seen in passing. We ran down Christiana St., passed under the highway, got a shout out from a fire truck, and then picked up the pace when the odors at the composting facility became particularly pungent. The route took us past old warehouses, pallet suppliers, and material plants, and we came upon small neighborhoods and an unexpected swimming pool in the Wilmington Municipal Services complex. We re-routed when a freight train pulled up, stalled, and blocked our path, and everyone successfully dodged the apple pie at the end. We finished having completed a full transition from green to industrial and back to green. After the run, we went to the DCCA to make smoothies with greens grown from the compost we smelled on the run, and everything came around full circle!

The ingredients in our green smoothies included:

-Fresh arugula, lettuce, kale, dill, and mint
-Fresh squeezed lime juice
-French radishes
-Fresh and frozen strawberries
-Carrot juice
-Agave syrup

To make the smoothie yourself, put all of the greens in a blender, add carrot juice for consistency, and add agave syrup and lime juice to taste. A handful of granola on top can also make the smoothie into a satisfying meal.

With our detour around the train, the run was longer than expected at 3.95 miles. We are now at 23.23 miles with only 3 miles left to go! Looking forward to seeing everyone at our FINAL RUN on Sunday, June 8th!


Run #6 – Completed!

Sarah Field curated our run last Sunday on what was both her birthday, her sister’s birthday, and mother’s day. Sarah’s family came out for the event, and she led us on a fun and scenic run through the area where she grew up. Sarah said she’s so familiar with the area that she doesn’t even know all the street names – she doesn’t need to. As someone who had never been to the area, it made me think about how the neighborhoods and places that are most intimate and familiar to us often defy explanation or words. The congealing process takes place only when we are forced to explain it.

We met at the country’s smallest Acme in the Trolley Square neighborhood, which used to be a trolley station and bus barn and is now a local hang-out for twenty-somethings. We passed by St. Ann’s Church where Sarah and her siblings went to school and where her family still goes to church. The run then took us through leafy, green street and through Rockford Park. We passed by Rockford tower, a beautiful old structure that unfortunately wasn’t open Sunday morning but offers a great view of Wilmington.

Portions of our run dovetailed with the Delaware Marathon, which was occurring simultaneously, and we had the chance to cheer on runners much more tired than ourselves. After completing our run we reconvened at El Diablo for delicious over-stuffed burritos. It was a beautiful day, and I got my first sunburn of the season. Thanks for sharing your neighborhood with us Sarah!


Run #5 – Completed!

Our 5th run was an off-road adventure curated by Zach Chupa, a Wilmington-based artist and runner. We met at a public park in Centreville and embarked upon a run that negated the need for a map. Instead of orienting us with a piece of paper, Zach asked us to follow a line through space. Saddled with a bag of white flour, Zach literally drew a path as we went. Zach explained that flour, an impermanent material, is commonly used to mark trail races and is an environmentally friendly alternative to chalk or paint.

Zach used to live in Centreville and, as a runner, is familar with the area’s network of running and walking trails. Centreville is also home to the Flint Woods Preserve, part of the Delaware Nature Society, and a series of trails on private land that one can obtain permission to access. Zach’s route took us through a small housing development and then on to conservation land where we traveled on lesser-known trails that looped around edge of a hill.

In many ways, our run became an ephemeral drawing in which our gestures marked space and time. Running is a transitory act and the footprints (and flour) that reveal our presence inevitably fade. But over time, runners and walkers can wear down a path. Over time, the impressions of our feet become more permanent. Running on the Centreville trails, I realized that trail running is not the solo act that I had considered it to be. Running a trail puts you in concert with the thousands of others who came before you to create and maintain that path. The viability of a trail is dependent upon the feet that pack it down in a way that makes a concerete sidewalk seem like an impersonal afterthought. While a sidewalk is designed around the needs of a car, a trail is defined by a collective desire for unhindered wanderings.

Many thanks to Zach for changing the parameters and for taking us off-road. The marathon is now at the 15.78 mile mark with three more runs to go!


In solidarity and with strength

In the wake of the tragic events that recently unfolded at the Boston Marathon, I have been struggling to put words to my feelings and thoughts. I am sure many of you will relate when I say I was shocked and still feel a deep sense of sorrow and loss that leaves me tearful and deeply shaken. I sincerely hope that everyone’s friends, family, and loved ones are safe, and my heart goes out to the victims and the multitude of people injured.

In connection with this tragic event, I have also heard stories of generosity and fortitude that have re-affirmed within me of the true power of running. Running teaches us to overcome, to be strong, and to be unwavering in the face of adversity and strife. It was with that spirit that I went on a run today, and it is with that spirit that I hope we can pursue our next run as a group.

The foundation of the greater running community is built on strength, perseverance and, most importantly, the bonds of friendship between fellow runners. Over the past couple months we have formed our own non-traditional running community, and I am grateful to everyone who shows up on Sunday mornings, not always knowing what to expect, to traverse the world with me. Thank you all for being a part of my community and for including me in yours.

As a group, we have now covered 12.47 miles, nearly half of our marathon goal. For our next run on April 28th, I welcome you to invite your own running/walking communities to join us, in an act of solidarity with the greater running community. I will post more information regarding this upcoming run/walk in the near future.

Some of my greatest role models are runners – my mother in particular – and runners are a tough bunch. Looking to the future, I know that we will carry on with a sense of pride and purpose, undeterred by what stands in our way.

In the spirit of solidarity,

Lauren


Run #4 – Completed!

The Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts guide corps joined us for our fourth run/walk curated by DCCA guide Ronna Hochman. Introducing the group to part of her “Sunday Morning Death March,” Ronna led us through the “developments” of Tavistock, Edenridge, and Sharpley and along the border of Brandywine Creek Park. We discussed the controversial development projects in the area, which include a plan to relocate the Pilot school (a school for students with disabilities) from its current location to make way for a new high rise housing development. A Wawa is also being built in front of the Jewish Community Center to the dismay of many participants.

The developments of Tavistock and Edenridge were built in the 70s, and Sharpley (named for Sharpley’s farm which was on the other side of Route 202) was built in the 50s. You can see differences between the 50s and 70s housing designs, which were built to resemble multiple architectural styles to avoid a homogenous feeling. Brandywine Creek Park was established at the same time as the developments and presents a number of convoluted trails for residents to get lost in – Ronna’s son once got lost for a couple hours on a run in the park.

As we traversed Black Gates Road, Ronna explained that the road had been part of the estate of William Young, owner of Rockland Mills paper mill at the bottom of Mt. Lebanon Road. Black gates road is named after a set of black gates at the end of the road that led to Young’s large white house. The gates are now part of DuPont Country Club and are painted white.

At the end of the run/walk we also came across the closed-down remains of the Bush School with shuttered windows and empty playground equipment. The walkers arrived to find the running group relaxing in front of Brew HaHa and many stayed for a post-run/walk snack.

Thank you to the DCCA guide corps for coming out and I look forward to seeing you on future runs/walks! I received many great suggestions for new routes, and I look forward to finalizing the upcoming schedule soon!


Run #3 – Dérive Completed!

DCCA curator Maiza Hixson took the running club on a psychogeographic “dérive” (drift) on April 7th through the streets, nooks, and crannies of downtown Wilmington. A dérive is the French situationist term for a spontaneous walk in which there are no rules and individuals may wander and engage the city in a creative or playful way.

Operating under the premise of an unplanned walk, this dérive was about “becoming more attuned and alive to the environment around you and letting that take you somewhere – psychologically, emotionally, physically,” Hixson said. Shirking capitalist motivations and intentions, the goal of this walk was “not necessarily to get somewhere, not necessarily to buy anything, but to have chance occurrences and to become alive again in a different way.”

Starting with blank maps, the group embarked from the DCCA and drifted with the DRIFT banner over MLK Blvd., down Market St., and through downtown Wilmington. We stopped at the Peoples Park and dropped off a chair for park visitors and continued down Market St. to Rodney Square. We were almost kicked out of the Hotel DuPont for drifting through the ballroom with a banner, and we then stopped for a look at the Wilmington Club, Wilmington’s last male-only establishment that first allowed women in the 1970s. After crowning the club the most sexist institution in Wilmington, we turned around to explore other downtown areas.

After returning back through neighborhood side-streets typically avoided by non-residents, we broke bread in a sandwich potluck in which each drifter contributed an item. Just as our drift had been an unplanned group action, our sandwiches too became a collaborative effort in chance and uncertainty that, luckily, resulted to a delicious and satisfying dérive conclusion.

The 2.45 mile route traversed during the dérive can be seen here


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.