Name: Jess H @ Pace of Me
Location: Virginia Beach, VA – First Landing State Park & Ocean Front
Why I love this run: Virginia Beach is one of my very favorite places to run and First Landing State Park has so much to do with that. The trails are not very technical – packed sand and pine needles with very few tree roots to navigate. No stream crossings or anything like that, either. This particular route does not even have wooden bridges (other routes in the park do, and they are beautiful, but this route is fairly simple as it’s pretty much just a straight out and back). The park has over 20 miles of trails total so there is MUCH to explore there and I highly recommend it – it is great for even the most novice trail runner – but if you are looking for an easy 7 miles to cover, this run is the perfect run for you. You will see lots of nature depending on the time of year. In the summer I am amazed by all the butterflies (but wear your bug spray in case there are mosquitoes or deer flies). Oftentimes I will do this run combine it with another one of my favorite runs – 9 miles mostly along the ocean – to get a long run of 16 miles in. Whether you want to run just the 7 miles in the park or tack on more, I recommend parking your car at the 64th Street entrance to the park, right off of Atlantic Avenue.
7 Mile Trail Run
For this run, you will just start on the Cape Henry Trail (right by the parking lot). There is a water fountain and a port-o-potty right there too so you can start your run with plenty of hydration and an empty bladder! Run straight out on the trail, 3.5 miles. At the end of the trail to your right is the Visitor’s Center. This is a great place to refill your water and use a nicer bathroom if you need it. Just run back the way you came and you have run a total of 7 miles on a beautiful trail under the prettiest canopy of trees.
9 Mile Boardwalk Run
For a solid 9 mile run, I love to cut across Atlantic Avenue and get on Ocean Front Avenue at 63rd Street. You just run across Atlantic and then onto 63rd Street and make a right onto Ocean Front Avenue. You will run along the ocean with beautiful old homes and beach cottages on your right and left, staying on Ocean Front until you get to the Cavalier Hotel at 42nd Street. From there just take a right on 42nd (it is the only way to turn) and then a left on Atlantic, staying on the ocean side of the street. This will turn into Pacific when you follow the road to the left and then you are on “the strip” and the start of the boardwalk will be on your left (it will take you a little more than 1.5 miles to get here from the park). Take a left and get on the boardwalk turning right. It is a concrete boardwalk and there is no shade, but you will see runners and beachgoers galore on your route. There are plenty of water fountains and port-o-potties (which are remarkably clean!) all up and down the boardwalk. There are also nice public restrooms at 24th and 31st Streets and they are open year-round. The boardwalk is 3 miles long each way, so if you run all the way to the end of it and turn around and follow your route back to the park, you have logged 9 miles.
16 Mile Run
When I am traveling in VA Beach and I need to get a longer run in, I love to combine these two runs together for a great 16 miler. In the summer I do the beach route first because there is no shade and I want to be in the cooler, tree lined park for the later stages of my run when the sun is stronger.