First Person: Aqueduct provides runner’s reprieve
by Scott Noack / For the Tracy Press
May 17, 2013 | 7150 views | 16 16 comments | 239 239 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’ve lived in Tracy for more than eight years now, and until a year ago, the aqueduct — that seemingly endless manmade river that carries a third of Southern California’s drinking water south — was something you drove over to get to Highway 580.

A year ago, I also couldn’t run more than a mile without doing a very good Darth Vader impersonation and could make three plates of food disappear at an all-you-can-eat East Indian buffet.

Now, after running for a year, I’m 13 pounds lighter, eat healthier and have completed my first 50K (31-mile) trail race.

For those of you, like me, who use long-distance running as a means of exercise and getting out of the house and away from laptops and cellphones, I highly recommend running along the California Aqueduct.

There are actually two waterways in south Tracy. If you follow Tracy Boulevard south, past the free-range chickens at Linne Road, past the airport, you will find the Delta-Mendota Canal.

I don’t normally run here, because the road, although wide, is rougher, and the path runs by several commercial plants.

If you continue south on South Tracy Boulevard for about 1.5 miles, you will run into the California Aqueduct, which is almost next to Highway 580 itself.

You can park on either side of the road, but not in front of the gates. The main gates are almost always locked, but there are side gates specifically designed to allow bicycles and pedestrians through.

You can travel “up river” toward Bethany Reservoir 20 miles away or “down river” toward Patterson, also about 20-plus miles away.

You can expect peace and quiet running along hard-packed gravel for as far as the eye can see. During spring, you can also expect to see “snow” as the almond trees flower.

There are always various fowl and fish making ripples in the water. Creative and nimble graffiti artists have decorated several of the overpasses with multicolored murals and tags. And there are normally friendly people fishing for catfish and stripers.

Don’t expect bathrooms, nor water fountains, on your run, and plan accordingly. Normal recommendations for fluid and fuel consumption while running are 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes and about 100 calories every hour.

For me, a typical 20-mile Saturday run at a leisurely 10:30-minute mile pace will take three hours and 30 minutes and require roughly 44 ounces of electrolye fluid and 300-plus calories. I normally use a CamelBak Marathoner Hydration pack filled with 44 ounces of Cytomax and bring four 100-calorie Gu gels with me.

For safety reasons, always take your cellphone and let friends and family know where you’ll be.

There is a gas station and mini market on Mountain House Parkway going north and on Chrisman Road going south. There are also “green room” porta-potties scattered along the aqueduct, but they may not always be open, and sometimes they are temporary and only available to construction workers.

If I can get away from the city and run trails along the beach or a single track through redwood groves, I do. However, for routine long runs close to home, you can’t beat the peace and quiet of our California aqueducts.

Tips

It is always better to run in pairs than alone.

Dogs are allowed along the trails near the aqueduct, but they must be on a leash at all times.

Warnings

Stay away from the edge of the aqueduct when running along it. The currents in the aqueduct are quite swift and pose a significant drowning danger.

Never swim in the aqueduct.

Never attempt to pet a dog unless you get permission from the owner.

Items you will need

• Water

• Food

• Cellphone (with GPS)

• Toilet/tissue paper

• Appropriate seasonal running clothes

• Scott Noack is a Tracy resident and runner. First Person is an occasional column in Our Town written by members of the Tracy and Mountain House communities. To comment, email tpourtown@tracypress.com, call 835-3030 or visit www.tracypress.com.

Comments
(16)
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ScottNoack
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November 06, 2013
I received a question recently how to get over the fence to run along the aqueduct. There are two sides to the aqueduct and both are generally NOT open to pedestrians and people who ride bikes; normally just one side. The side that is runner/bike friendly will have a sign like this:

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a1/plankton123/bikeroute_zps6010e732.jpg

and you will be able to get through the bike gate built into the side that looks like this:

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a1/plankton123/bikepedgate_zps06516425.jpg
ScottNoack
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November 06, 2013
Here are the images:

http://s8.photobucket.com/user/plankton123/media/bikeroute_zps6010e732.jpg.html

http://s8.photobucket.com/user/plankton123/media/bikepedgate_zps06516425.jpg.html
ScottNoack
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May 18, 2013
Here is a screen shot of an example run from this morning; which, was a simple 10 mile out and back from S Tracy to Blewett Rd and back.

 photo TenMileAqueductRun_zps63ea2bc7.jpg
ScottNoack
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November 06, 2013
I received a question recently how to get over the fence to run along the aqueduct. There are two sides to the aqueduct and both are generally NOT open to pedestrians and people who ride bikes; normally just one side. The side that is runner/bike friendly will have a sign like this:

[URL=http://s8.photobucket.com/user/plankton123/media/bikeroute_zps6010e732.jpg.html][IMG]http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a1/plankton123/bikeroute_zps6010e732.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

and you will be able to get through the bike gate built into the side that looks like this:

[URL=http://s8.photobucket.com/user/plankton123/media/bikepedgate_zps06516425.jpg.html][IMG]http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a1/plankton123/bikepedgate_zps06516425.jpg[/IMG][/URL]
ScottNoack
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May 17, 2013
Running is a pure, individual fitness sport yet there is a huge online support community with a wealth of information. If you have a GPS watch (like Garmin or Timex) or a GPS-enabled smartphone you can use apps like 'RunKeeper', 'MapMyRun' or even 'Strava Cycling' to plan your running routes (including elevation change), share with friends and track your progress. Additionally, there are websites like dailymile.com and fitocracy.com where you can network and challenge each other towards fitness goals.
RJester
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May 17, 2013
Great article. I am more a bike rider. How are these routes for bike riders?
ScottNoack
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May 17, 2013
Hey RJester Thanks for the kind words! I cycle too and have a Trek 5200 I take out once and awhile. The answer kinda depends on the bike you have. If you have a mountain bike with bike tires then I'd say definitely. If you have a road bike with narrow slicks then I'd say probably not as the roads are hard-pack gravel and the ride would be really, really rough. If you have the 'Strava Cycling' app you can 'Explore' routes in the area that cylists use. There are many routes towards Lake Del Valle in Livermore (Niles, etc).
RJester
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May 18, 2013
Great. Yes, I have a mountain bike. I should have specified. I was thinking the paths were loose gravel but now you said they are hard-pack, I will definitely give it a look. Thanks again for all the information.
RJester
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May 18, 2013
Great. Yes, I have a mountain bike. I should have specified. I was thinking the paths were loose gravel but now you said they are hard-pack, I will definitely give it a look. Thanks again for all the information.
BikeRider2
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May 19, 2013
I have multiple bikes both road and mountain bicycles. I have a carbon bike that I used on the aqueducts. I did it because the hard packed gravel is like riding on roads, but without potholes. Only place I had to walk the bicycle was a cow-catcher. But I have a cycle-cross bike that's built like a road bike, with drop down handlebars and little wider tires (but not as wide as a dirt bike). And I will say that a cyclo-cross bike is great out there on the aquaduct paths. Great article!!!!

I also like the road bicycling in Patterson Pass, Old Altamont, and Corral Hollow (Tesla) Rd. Even on occasion I have bicycled all the way to Fremont from Tracy. It's an awesome way to start the week. And it is on par with the G2SF group's ride if you've ever went with them. For those who are not stronger riders there is a Tracy train with stops along the commute to Livermore/Pleasanton/Fremont/Santa Clara/San Jose. Check it out at http://acerail.com. Thanks again for the article!!!!

A lot of people don't realize what a great blessing it is living near all these options.
cruzzer
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May 17, 2013
Great article! I can't wait to try it out! I just took up the sport of Triathlons and mud running. Any good places around Tracy to do hills?
ScottNoack
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May 17, 2013
Thanks Cruzzer! I haven't found any hills in Tracy unless you count the pedestrian overpasses you sometimes encounter while running the Aqueduct - like the one near Highway 132. I haven't tried a sprint triathlon yet but it is definitely on my 'to do' list!
BikeRider2
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May 19, 2013
Biking or running. Take a country drive (or bike or run) out to Bethany (north) and check it out. It starts to get hilly there as you move away from the Delta toward Mt Diablo.

Or just drive (west). Look at the hills in the map posted above. Just west of Tracy there are abundant hill climbs. In fact there is a motorcycle hill climb on Tesla Rd and even Old Altamont has a small motorcycle park. Amgen goes through the hills above 237 (on the other side) and sometimes through Tracy/Patterson/Mt Diablo.

There sure are a lot of nearby opportunities.
MrSycamore
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May 19, 2013
Onyourmarkevents.com. Check it out for great sprint triathlons! Good trail running is east bay regional parks. My favorite is Pleasanton ridge and grizzled peak. Nice article! I'm definitely going to try the aqueduct. I biked on the aqueduct near grant line road and I nearly fell into the aqueduct because of high winds. Be careful people.
ScottNoack
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May 20, 2013
Yeah, nothing like trail running ... In addition to Onyourmarkevents.com, there is also brazenracing.com and insidetrail.com.

There are also local road races like the Mountain House Kite 5k/10k (Sat, June 8th) and our own Bean festival 5k/10k (Sat, Sept 7th). You can see many of the races on halfmarathons.net Obstacle and specialty races are also becoming popular - like color, foam, mud, neon and 'spartan', etc.

I think we need an article about cycling the area!
Athletic1
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June 01, 2013
The aqueducts are not for children or the faint of heart. There is room enough to drive two service trucks on the sides of some of them. But there is no fence to keep you from going fishing or swimming. DON'T do it.

Please DON'T go there to practice for a triathlon. Bicycling and running is all I do there. There are strong undercurrents, so stay out of the water, for safety's sake.

Enjoy responsibly.


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