HOUSTON (KIAH) — Thousands of people enjoy Memorial Park every day, and now there’s one more reason to go there.
On Saturday, the Roy H. Cullen Running Trails Center debuted its new timing track and entertainment space to the delight of runners and regular parkgoers.
“The timing track draws a microcosm of users of Memorial Park,” Memorial Park Conservancy President and CEO Shellye Arnold said. “Runners, walkers, people who enjoy the space of Memorial Park, people who enjoy coming for community, enjoy coming to improve their health, enjoy coming to immerse themselves in nature.”
The 400-meter, cushioned timing track — that has pine trees and natural vegetation in the middle — allows serious runners to get a better idea of how well they’re completing quarter miles, so they can apply that to their longer runs.
The people behind the longest of runs see it as one more reason athletes will flock to the Bayou City.
“For the marathon and marathon runners here, to have a place to come and do their speed training, and to come onto a softer surface after hundreds of miles a month running on the hard surfaces and stuff, it’s going to be a welcome addition,” Houston Marathon Committee executive director Wade Morehead said.
The running center is the latest completed project in the $200 million, 10-year plan for Memorial Park that the conservancy is leading along with its partners — The Kinder Foundation, The Houston Mayor’s Office, and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Earlier this year, the Kinder Land Bridges made their debut, and over the past several years other projects have included the Eastern Glades and a rerouting of a one-mile section of the popular Seymour-Liebermann Trail.
The improvements are appreciated by the general public — but runners really like them.
“Memorial Park is thought of by many people as a runner’s park,” Arnold said. “We have thousands of people visit a day, many of whom are runners.”