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Guest post by Grace Wildermuth
I started training for the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon the day after I moved to State College to start graduate school at Penn State University. I had only been to State College for a few short day trips to interview for the program and find an apartment. I knew next to nothing about the area, and had only a handful of acquaintances in my new “hometown”. I would never have imagined that training for my first half marathon would be the catalyst for my integration into life here in State College, but that is exactly what has happened.
Finding running routes through my neighborhood has allowed me to meet some incredibly friendly neighbors that have helped to answer a lot of my questions about the community. My training has also helped me locate a middle school, an elementary school, a community pool, and every bus stop I could ever need to get to campus. My training also led me to the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail, which runs along the old Buffalo Run, Bellefonte, and Bald Eagle Railroad corridor just north of University Park Campus. The Bellefonte Central Rail Trail is a beautiful gravel trail, perfect for running, biking, or walking and even connects to the Arboretum at Penn State. As a huge fan of the D&L Trail, I was incredibly happy to find a similar (even if much shorter) trail system during my training here.
While at times I have thought that training for my first half marathon while simultaneously starting my first semester of graduate coursework here in State College might qualify as “biting off more than I can chew”, I quickly remember that my training has served as an incredible orientation to my new home. I look forward to returning to the D&L Trail on November 1st to run my first half marathon in a beautiful setting, on an incredible trail system that we are so lucky to have. Hopefully, I will find some more hidden gem trails here in State College in the meantime.