Running Away From Home: Geneva, IL

Recently, I completed an ill-conceived challenge to run every day in the month of August.  One of the big takeaways from that grueling experience — besides coming to the realization that 41-year-old legs are not meant for 31 straight days of running — is that I’ve grown tremendously bored of running in my town.

While Poulsbo, WA may be charmingly quaint and adorably Norwegian, its small size and geography (i.e. steep hills) limit my options when it comes to plotting out interesting routes that won’t kill me.  While I’ve always been well aware of this shortcoming, re-running the same 2-3 routes for an entire month really hammered home the monotony of my mileage.

So you can imagine my excitement when this past weekend I was able to break free from the repetition of my running routine by getting on an airplane and heading east.

My destination? Geneva… Illinois.

A quiet morning in Geneva, IL.

While Geneva, IL may be a less worldly city than its Swiss counterpart, its upside lies in the fact that it’s far more affordable and doesn’t require half a day of traveling to get there. If that weren’t enough to sell you on this town, it’s also the 4th drunkest city in Illinois and can boast being #1 in bars per capita.

However, we didn’t choose to visit Geneva for the booze but rather because my sister lives there. We hadn’t been out to see her family since they made the move from Chicago over a year ago, so an excursion to these parts was long overdue.

While in town, my wife and I did some running on the scenic Fox River Trail. This paved path that hugs the eastern side of the river offers lots of greenery and plenty of cyclist dodging. There’s no shortage of great views — both of nature and the town — and plenty of people letting you know they’re “on your left.”

For those looking to log serious mileage you can take the trail north to the neighboring town of St. Charles or south to Batavia. Since I’m still recovering from my aforementioned August Streak and just ramping into my half marathon training, we opted for a couple of two-mile, vacation-paced jaunts along the river, which took us across rustic pedestrian bridges and past a historic, Dutch windmill.

What runner doesn’t want to cross rustic bridges…
…and jog past historic windmills…
…and down finely manicured paths?

In addition to Fox River, there’s more scenic running to be done through the neighborhoods bordering downtown Geneva. Had our stay been longer, we would’ve surely run down these tree-lined streets and past all the beautiful, architecturally interesting homes. After all, checking out attractive homes we could never afford to live in is something my wife and I really enjoy doing when we vacation run.

If you do ever find yourself in Geneva, for a run or otherwise, be sure to stop by Penrose Brewing. Their tasting room is a few blocks from the heart of town and offers a wide variety of finely crafted microbrews. I sampled  a few styles (all of which were fantastic), but the Lemongrass Saison was easily my favorite. And if you can’t make it to the brewery, just grab a Penrose pint at one of Geneva’s many bars (#1 per capita!) and eateries since their tap handles seemed to be fairly ubiquitous.

Don’t like beer? Indulge in sweets and caffeine instead. Pickup some fine chocolate and ice cream at the aptly named Graham’s Fine Chocolate and Ice Cream or go next door to the 318 Coffeehouse for espresso and pastries. These treats may be high calorie, but if you run first you can rationalize eating anything you want, including chocolate, ice cream and pastries.

Now that I’ve shared my Geneva experience, I can only assume you’re mere moments away from opening another tab on your browser, pulling up your travel site of choice, and planning your trip. And if that isn’t your next move, you should really look in the mirror and think long and hard about what your doing with your life and where your priorities lie.

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