Shawnee Mission Park–The Best Place to Run in Lenexa/Overland Park/Olathe/Shawnee KS Area

I’ve never realized how hard it is to find a good place to run when you’re in an area where you have no idea where anything is located.

I’m currently hanging out in a Lenexa, KS, hotel room watching some football and waiting for a friend’s wedding this afternoon. My wife is in the wedding party, so I’ve had most of the day for myself to do whatever I wanted, as long as I make it to the ceremony location on time.

Also this weekend, I’ll be running my 4th marathon, so after I dropped my wife off to start getting ready, I wanted to go and get in 2 or 3 easy miles to loosen up my legs a little bit and break a little sweat.

Who knows if I’ll be in this part of the country again, so I wanted to see something cool–whether that be neighborhoods, neat parks, or anything else that I can’t see when I’m running in Lakeland.

Easier said than done.

Google Is Worthless

Go ahead and google the best places to run where you live. I’m willing to bet that pretty much the first page or two of results will be a bunch of uploaded mapmyrun pages and directory type sites listing a bunch of different trails/parks/whatever.

Sounds good, right? Lots of options from short to long and everything in between. However, what happens if you don’t know the area you are in? Do those mapmyrun routes help?

They didn’t help me here in Kansas at all. In a perfect world, I may have seen some websites for local running clubs or local run bloggers that could have directed me to a good location or even a time when some people get together for a group run. That would have been ideal.

Instead, I got a listing with a bunch of options, but none had addresses so since I don’t know the area I couldn’t find them.

And Siri couldn’t help either, bless her heart.

Shawnee Mission Park

10shawneemissionpark0.JPG

Photo Courtesy of Kansastravel.org

Holy cow, y’all. This place is awesome.

How Shawnee Mission Park isn’t number one on google for best place to run in all of Kansas, I don’t know. If I wasn’t racing tomorrow, I totally could have done 15 or 20 miles this morning–this park is that huge! (Perhaps huge is an understatement–this joker is 1,236 acres huge)

10shawneemissionparkmap

Map Courtesy of Kansastravel.org

After studying the trail guide for a solid 5 minutes, I found a spot that I thought would allow me to do about a 3 mile loop, which was exactly what I wanted today. I started, and within the first half a mile or so, I was hooked.

photo 1(1)Don’t see many spaces like this in Lakeland.

Eventually, I got to the spot where I thought I’d need to turn back to my car, and I found a trail that was supposed to be for horse riding (I think), but I decided I’d try running on it and play idiot out-of-towner if needed. A half mile on this beautiful, tree covered, gravel trail was just what I needed this morning and I got back on the paved trail to head back up the hill toward the car.

Then, at the top of the hill….

photo 2(1)Wow. This picture in no way does the lake justice.

After I got back to the car, I drove around what I thought was the rest of the park. Turns out, I only drove around about half of it.

Not sure if we will ever be back in this part of the country, but if we do you can bet I’ll be back here to run and explore more of this beautiful park. Maybe they’ll have a marathon for me to run here at some point?

If you’re ever in the Kansas City area, and you’ve got time for a run, I can’t encourage you enough to come out and run on these trails at Shawnee Mission Park. The park has easy access to I-435, so if you have a car you can get there pretty easily.

Believe me, it beats running in the city any day.

And if you’re here in the fall when the leaves are changing, oh man….

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