By Terry Sullivan, liveRIGHTnow. Photo: liveRIGHTnow (Facebook)

You might have noticed a small group of runners going up and down Old Canton Road on Monday and Friday evenings.  Last year, some friends and I started training for an upcoming race that was going to take place in the hills of Tennessee and we decided that the half-mile incline up Old Canton was a great place to start.  We set two days to meet up at the bottom of the hill, spend some time together and we held each other accountable to our rigorous training schedule.  Over time, other people saw us tackling that massive incline and decided they wanted to join.   Now, our four person training team has grown to almost 30.

We call them “hill runs” but we basically run up and down Old Canton between Avondale and Duling Avenue. We make the half-mile incline and do something “ultra” (think push ups, jumps squats, burpees) at the top before we decline back down and do it again. Our hill runs have become quite popular lately, and we even have our own Gatorade and fruit stand thanks to some young entrepreneurial neighbors (thanks John Hoyt and Rivers!).

I have recently come to realize that running hills has become much more than that.  Hill runs have become a social gathering of some really great and diverse personalities.  The meeting at the hill is a great demonstration of how exercise can be fun and challenging, and both of these qualities are shown to all passers by on Old Canton Road.  Hill running has become a right of passage for runners, both new and old, as they come to test their lung and legs on one of the meanest hills in Jackson.  For me, hill runs have made me faster and more confident.  I’ve become more aggressive on uphill approaches during races and  I think most people who run hills with us feel the same way.

If you haven’t made it to hill runs yet, we would love to have you out there.  Everyone runs at their own pace and we like keeping it fun and non-competitive.  I can promise that you will get one heck of a workout and you will meet some great people in the process!  Email me at with “Hill Runs” in the subject line if you would like to join us and I will let you know how.

* SIDE NOTE:  Old Canton Road is a busy street.  We strongly encourage reflective gear and bright clothing.  Although we have biking/running lanes, it is important for all runners to keep an eye out for traffic on side streets and distracted drivers.

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