Walking and Running Culture Thrives in Morgantown

The Morgantown Running Club heads out to the Rail Trail at 5 p.m. on a Monday in November. The club has about 10 to 20 regular runners, and they run from 3-5 miles, though runners can turn around for home at any point.

In the spring of 2017, over 65 millions people went jogging or running in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which can be broken up into 30 minutes of daily walking or running. Many researchers have related a daily walking or running habit to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, improved psychological well-being and weight loss.

Walkable neighborhoods or communities tend to have higher rates of physical activity and less air population from traffic, contributing to an environmentally friendly relationship, researchers found in a study published in the Journal of American Planning Association.

The Best Places to Go for a Walk or Run in Morgantown

According to Walk Score rankings, one of the exhaustive studies on pedestrian accessibility of U.S. neighborhoods and communities, Morgantown has close to 30, 000 residents and an average score of 54 out of 100. With a score between 50 and 69, Morgantown is categorized as “Somewhat Walkable”, which means “some errands can be accomplished on foot.” Morgantown’s hilly terrain can make walking downtown a challenge.

However, Morgantown has plenty of options for walkers and runners for physical fitness, including a Pedestrian Walking and Recreational Trail System. Read more about the local Rail Trail system here. (Link to Kelly LeMasters story). And you can find out more information about the parking and other facilities on the North Central WV Trail Map.

In addition to the Rail Trails, the city has a number of parks inside the city limits with trails or tracks.

Additional opportunities a little outside the city limits include, The WV Botanic Garden, Coopers Rock State Forest, Chestnut Ridge Park, and Manson-Dixon park are also available for walkers and runners in the region.

According to Ella Belling, director of The Mon River Trails Conservancy (MRTC), over 30 rail-trail events happen each year on the Mon River and Deckers Creek Trails to celebrate and/or benefit a local cause. Races in 2016 on the rail-trail helped support causes such as pet adoption and spaying and neutering programs, food for the hungry, veteran services, college scholarships, literacy programs, cancer research, and more.

Belling said, the rail-trail system has been a draw for companies to locate to Morgantown, and it allows them to offer incentives to employees through their wellness programs. The rail-trails are a tourism draw as well, bringing in visitors to shop, eat, and recreate in Morgantown.

Active Local Groups for Walkers or Runners

Don’t want to run alone? Below are some active local groups that enjoy and contribute to the walking and running environment in Morgantown.

Morgantown Running (MR) is a shoe store that also invites runners to get together and run. The store sponsors various running events in town. The MR group runs every Monday at 5:15 pm. Walkers and Runners meet at the running store and run on the trail in a group for about 5 miles every time. Interested in group runs? Contact Heather Cleary via (304)-241-5223 or heathermcd12@gmail.com. MR also provides a high school club program for youth runners at middle school age or under. Anyone looking to run in a high school club program should contact Jonathan Wright at wvfylers@gmail.com. The group sponsors holiday themed fun runs a couple of times a year, for example, Halloween Half Marathon and Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk.

In the video below, Heather Cleary, the organizer for the Morgantown Running club talks about how she got started.

Morgantown Road Runners/ WV Track Club is a local running club that meet the first Monday of every month. They organized the many fun walking and running events like Good Neighbor Mile. At the end of October, the club held the event Mission Take Back 5K Run/2 Mile Walk. They require different memberships fees for students, individuals and families. Anyone interested in this club should contact Heather Parks, the secretary of the club, at hbury98@hotmail.com or (304)-216-4467.

Girls on the Run North Central West Virginia is a non-profit organization that serves Barbour, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, and Wetzel Counties in West Virginia. They help girls in the area increase self-confidence, develop healthy relationships and feel good about themselves. The organization offers programs for girls in grades 3-5 (Girls on the Run) and grades 6-8 (Heart & Sole). Girls in grades 9- 12 and beyond have opportunities to get involved as volunteers and junior coaches. Registration is currently open for the spring 2018 program. Interested in the programs or events? Call (304)685-4140 or email INFO@GOTRNCW.ORG

Resources for Walkers and Runners

Besides following the activities of the active local groups, walkers and runners can build up their own event calendars by checking the events from West Virginia Rails-To-Council, iPlayOutside and nearby races information.

A more extensive list of local hiking and outdoors activities is available through Morgantown Outdoors.

The online tools West Virginia Trail Inventory and TrailLink provide zoomable maps for you to look into the rail-trails system.

The map below shows places to run and clubs to join for running and walking in Morgantown.


Story, video and graphic by Minying Kong

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