If you have ever attended or participated in a road race or walking event, then you understand that community can mean more than a certain location. It’s true that Petersburg is unified by a common desire to thrive among a trend toward urbanization. It’s also true that there are other, micro-communities if you will, existing within this village. In addition to the regular coffee groups and lunch crowd, there are the walkers, runners and bicyclists.
The realization that a running/walking community exists in Petersburg struck me on a very early morning last spring. I was training for my longest road race, and needed to get in some serious mileage that day. I also prefer to run when there isn’t much traffic…and I didn’t think that anyone else would be up at that hour.
Within the first mile, I saw a “regular” stepping out of his garage for an early morning walk. A little later, I saw at least two more people bundled up and on the road. While none of us were partnered up or even communicating other than the usual “good morning,” there was a definite sense of community in the air. By the time I reached home, there were people out with others or their pets.
Since then, I seem to be more aware of those who either make laps around town, or loop around the west section of town. People who prefer to make the trek alone, with their dogs, strollers or a friend. On a rare occasion, when crossing the path of others, conversations take place. I have learned that people’s reasons for heading outside vary greatly. Whether they’re craving fresh air, exercise, stress relief, or something else…there are dozens of our neighbors who are taking advantage of Petersburg’s unofficial walking/running/biking trail system.
This winter, I ventured onto unfamiliar territory. Needing to squeeze in a short jog, I made my way across the track and onto the golf course. I didn’t really have a route in mind but it didn’t take long to identify a faint path worn into the grass along the edge of the course. I followed it around the ball field and onto the sidewalk leading into the park.
Stumbling onto a path that another runner had created brought back that strange sense of community. If I hadn’t written about it, very few would ever discover its existance. This unique group of people isn’t something that’s spoken about, advertised or celebrated. But it exists here. And it only strengthens the larger sense of community that this small town shares.