Tuesday 1 May 2012

Stanford University, California - USA

It's not difficult to see why Stanford University has been voted top college sports programme 17 years in a row
For a teenager, going to school at Stanford University, life must be good. This is not a College, this is heaven on earth!
I was in Palo Alto, California for the WTA Tennis Stanford event taking place on the College campus. I can honestly say I had never heard of the place before arriving, assuming it was just a small generic American town. I soon realised I was wrong!
Although a relatively small town, it is home to Silicon Valley where you will find the headquarters of Facebook, AOL & Xerox. Notable current and former residents include the late Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Condoleezza Rice and Larry Page. It is located under an hour away from San Francisco on the Cal Train.
This was my first ever first-hand experience of American colleges, having previously only seen them in teen films like American Pie and Old School. A University Campus in England is obviously much bigger than a high school, but very similar in terms of what is there, just on a larger scale. But man this was like a small city!
The Hoover Tower on the Stamford University Campus, named after former United States President and Stanford Alumni Herbert Hoover

Regularly voted in the top five universities in the World, for a starters, there is a 50,000 seater stadium where the College American Football team play their matches. To put that into context, that is bigger than 17 of the 20 English Premier League football stadiums and has hosted a Super Bowl and several World Cup 1994 matches.
Then you take a look at the Alumni, and it shows you the calibre of athletes who have attended. John Elway, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods& John McEnroe as well as a total of 182 Olympic medals won by former students.

Not just sports stars either, Larry Page & Sergey Brin founders of Google studied here, as did the founders of companies including Nike, Hewlett-Packard, & Cisco Systems.
In addition to 17 Nobel Prize winners, former US President Herbert Hoover attended as well as a Japanese Prime Minister. You get the idea now, basically this place is pretty incredible!
Serena Williams, one of the greatest female athletes in history. This is as close as I dare get, she would eat me alive!

I was staying in a Days Inn located on El Camino Real just 2.6 miles south east of the University campus. As it is open to public, I was very keen to take a nose around on my run!
Out of my hotel I therefore headed north west along the street, which runs through most of the town and straight to the campus - no chance of getting lost here!
There are a few crossings on the busier roads so depending on what time you run you may have to wait, or if it's quiet you could try your luck in between cars (if the police ask, I didn't tell you to jay-walk!).
I would suggest running early or late as being California it gets seriously hot here for probably 8 months of the year. This is a really well lit road too so there are problems in running after dark.
Upon reaching the campus on your left hand side, there are a few different entrances but I took the entrance which you will see at the main crossroads left on Galvez Street just as you pass Palo Alto High School on your right.
Now on campus, part of me was very jealous of all the students I saw who study here!

I followed Galvez Street south past the Stanford Stadium which is a really cool looking stadium (for a school!) and then the athletics track (top photo). 
Some evenings in Palo Alto, due to the tropical climate fog can be seen rolling in over the foothills. In real life it looks like something out of a horror movie!
Carrying on south I picked up Campus Drive passing the Tennis Stadium on your left hand side, with my plan now to complete a loop of the campus and head back to my hotel - This place is much bigger than I anticipated.

I followed Campus Drive as curved to the right and the right again as it began to loop round the back of most of the buildings and classrooms, picking up Junipero Serra Boulevard as the roads merged.

Not content with world-class stadia, there is also a lake and a golf course on campus (obviously). I passed both of these along Junipero (lake on your right, golf course on your left) as I began to turn for home. When you reach the driving range on your right hand side, take a right where you will be back on Campus Drive.

From here, you simply stay on the road all the way as it snakes north east towards the campus exit, passing some large greenhouses on your left and then a hospital. Before you pass a large wooded area (Frost Ampitheatre), take a left on Palm Drive. This is the main entrance to the campus and must offer an adrenaline pumping experience for new students on their first day as they drive up it.

Then simply take a right back on the El Camino Real and follow the route from earlier once again passing the high school now on your left, all the way back to the Days Inn. In total the run measured just under 8 miles. Great running conditions, mainly dry, all concrete and sidewalks most of the way. Minimal traffic on campus, lots of sports stadia and activity to inspire you mid-run.

If you can't motivate yourself to run here, you won't anywhere!

Summary: Start – Days Inn, El Camino Real, Palo Alto CA
Journey – North west towards Stanford University Campus on El Camino Real for 2.6miles. Enter campus on Galvez, pick up Campus Drive. Follow all the way around campus, briefly pickup up Junipero Serra Boulevard before rejoining Campus Drive. Pick up Palm Drive the main road into the campus and then turn right and return along El Camino Real.
Finish - Days Inn, El Camino Real

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