Snow had fallen earlier in the day, and the temperature registered at 13 degrees. But I was jogging in cropped leggings and a T-shirt — not on a treadmill and not on a track so small I’d get dizzy or bored before I put in 3 miles. I was circling the upper concourse at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Just one day earlier, the Vikes had powered through a game on the field below, beating the Detroit Lions.
“Every win is tough,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said after the game.
I feel that about every mile. But knowing I was clocking my distance in the home of professional athletes — guys with the kind of drive and grit I could never match — put a kick in my step. What really made me happy, though, was running free of the gear that usually comes with winter. No gloves, no facemask, no layers, no ice beneath my feet.
When I arrived at the stadium, I took the elevator to Level 4 and stepped onto the concourse-turned-running course. When I asked, an usher told me that the bag check was back downstairs at the Legacy Gate. “Most of the runners just tuck their stuff into a seat,” she said. I did the same, taking in an unencumbered view of the field.
With upbeat music blasting through stadium speakers, I peeled out. Occasionally, I could spy in-line skaters on the concourse below breezing along on their wheels.
On my third round, I began to doubt the usher, who had told me that about 2 ½ laps make a mile. I stopped to ask another stadium employee, one who had mentioned during our elevator ride up that he had once been a track-and-field coach. It’s about 400 meters around, he told me in track speak, then translated when I looked confounded, “a little more than four times around should make a mile.”
I decided to stop worrying about mileage and run as long as I liked. Drinking fountains were nicely spaced, as were bathrooms. But when I began to notice the other hallmarks of a stadium — food stands, now darkened, like Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen and Fong’s Chinese — I figured it was time to head home for dinner.
As I gathered belongings from my seat in Section 305, Lizzo’s song “Truth Hurts” blared over the speakers. I almost kept running when she crooned the line, “new man on the Minnesota Vikings.”
U.S. Bank Stadium’s Winter Warm-Ups
Who’s it for: Walkers, runners and in-line skaters who want a break from the cold weather or a peek at the inside of the stadium.
When: Warm-Ups are scheduled for Dec. 18; Jan. 8, 13, 15 and 29; and Feb. 3, 5, and 10; all dates fall on either a Monday or a Wednesday. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Open skating takes place the first three hours; the final hour is dedicated to speedskating.
Where: Inside U.S. Bank Stadium, 401 Chicago Ave., Mpls. Skaters use the main concourse in the stadium and enter through the Legacy Gate (on the main plaza facing downtown). Runners and walkers use the upper concourse and enter through the Polaris Gate (just north of the Legacy Gate, near the ticket office).
Cost: Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for ages 5-12; children under 5 are free. A bag check costs $2. Both can be purchased at the gate or in advance at tinyurl.com/ulr7r6x.
Other details: You will walk through a metal detector and your bag will be searched as you enter. That’s customary for the stadium. Strollers aren’t allowed. Proper gear is required: That means shoes for runners, and skates and helmets for skaters.