Ask most local runners which surface they would rather put their miles in on and few would say concrete.
Concrete, according to runnersworld.com, is one of the hardest running surfaces around and can lead to increased shin splits and joint pain. While research regarding the impact of running surfaces on the body is not definitive, many runners agree concrete is not the best option.
The city of Sheridan prides itself on its pathway system, which includes several miles of concrete paths through the city and its parks. The system itself is a fantastic option for recreationists.
The scenery, the lack of traffic and the ability to run for miles are major draws for area runners and cyclists. But those who traverse the paths may notice the trodden paths in the grass next to the pathways as well, left by runners trying to take it a little easier on their knees.
The city has few unpaved pathways, one of which is the trek through the Wrench Ranch area. The loop is currently gravel and provides a softer running trail for area recreationists.
Just west of town, too, is the Soldier Ridge Trail, which is as close to a mountain trail as you can get without heading up the Bighorns.
The city should consider leaving the path through the Wrench Ranch area as is, or as the Bomber Mountain Cycling Association and others have suggested, improving it to be more mountain bike friendly with no concrete.
Mountain bike friendly often times can also mean trail runner friendly.
It is great that the city has taken into consideration needs of those with disabilities wanting to utilize the city’s pathway system. City staff has worked hard to write grant proposals that result in funding for the city’s pathways, but those federal funds require the pathways be ADA accessible.
Sheridan County and the Bighorn Mountains offer multitudes of unpaved trails, pathways and roads for runners and recreationists, but having similar options in town would be a benefit to many area outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps the city should begin looking for grant funding or utilize Optional One-Cent Sales Tax funds to improve some of the pathways for other recreational interests.