SACRAMENTO — Sacramento is already well known for hosting the California International Marathon on city streets. Now, there's a plan to create a new path for distance runners who prefer to go off-road.
"Sacramento has got one of the most vibrant running communities in the country," said Scott Abbott, executive director for the Sacramento Running Association.
Abbott added that Sacramento doesn't have "an adequate way regionally to facilitate the sport of cross country."
He is working to build a new cross country running course along the American River Parkway near Cal Expo.
"Those grasslands are wide open, great for trail development," he said.
Abbott said cross-country running is growing in popularity.
"It's one of the highest participation sports at the scholastic level in both high school and all the way up to college," he said.
Local teams have been forced to use golf courses in the past, but building a dedicated trail could attract up to 20,000 runners a year.
"There's a great opportunity to have a lot of participation and events, bring new people out here," Abbott said.
The new running paths could also help reduce the wildfire risk.
"Building out trails that are thoughtfully designed that can serve as fire breaks to help with fire mitigation in the area, get rid of some invasive grasses and weeds," Abbott said of some of the potential benefits.
Many people who use the parkway support the plan.
"I actually like to walk on the dirt," Keel Exum said. "It gives me a little more variety and traction."
It's a new opportunity to get people outdoors and enjoy the nature area.
The proposal is currently being reviewed by the Sacramento County Parks Commission. If approved, organizers say they would use the paved lots at Cal Expo for parking, concessions, and race logistics.
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