I work near the last natural sand dunes in Georgia. I have driven by the dunes for about four months and today I decided to run on them. I have not run on any trails since early 2009. I have been running one to three miles on the concrete trail along the Flint River with my road shoes. Today I worked until almost sunset so I decided that it was a good day to run in the sand dunes.
What I first noticed about these dunes when I arrived in Albany is that on weekends they are full of all terrain vehicles (ATV) and dirt bikes. During the week they are used as a sand quarry. There are no trespassing signs on all of the gates to the dunes. It looks like the local thrill seekers and Albany State University (ASU) athletes ignor these signs.
I have observed some ASU track athletes training on the sand dunes. I use to run in the deep unpacked sand on the beach when I lived in Southern California. I know the training benefits of running in deep sand. I want to build up strength in my right knee with has scar tissue from an old basketball injury 20 years ago. Running in deep sand also allows you to have a low impact work out while also building your quads.
So since this was my first time running this area I decided to run as close to the edge of the dunes and see what the distance was to loop around the dunes. I ran for 2.4 miles in about 25 minutes and made a meandering loop around the dunes. I finished the run by walking twice to the top of the tallest dune near my starting point. The path that I took was a mixture of hard packed red clay, deep sand, gravel and grass. I was really excited to be running on a surface that was soft and natural. This is the perfect place for me to train without fear of getting knee injuries due to my desire to push myself into running too long too fast.