Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trail Running Life List

The November 2009 issue (#62) of Trail Runner magazine had a story on the top ten "trail runner's life list." They surveyed trail runners around the country and asked them, "What are the must-do experiences for every trail runner?"  Here are their top responses:

1. Run the Grand Canyon
I have dreamed of this for quite some time.  It would be awesome to do a rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) run at the canyon.  It's about 23 miles from rim to rim.  That's "only" 46 miles for a round trip.  Very doable in one day if you start early.  Lots of regular (non-elite) runners have done this and the current "record" is 6:59 for the round trip!  I'd settle for double that time...under 14 hours would be fine.  My running buddy Gregg (also doing the Canadian Death Race) has agreed to join me on this adventure...maybe next year?

2. Work an Aid Station
Been there, done that.  I've helped out at 5K road races and 100 mile trail races.  It's a blast...and something that every runner should feel obligated to do at least once...preferably once every year!  If you have ever run in a race, you need to give back and volunteer at a race.  Enough said.  Just do it.

3. Run the Classic Races
Does Clinton Lake ultra count?  Probably not.  I've yet to run a "classic" race.  Trail Runner mentions races like Dipsea, JFK 50, and Mt Washington.  I have always wanted to run JFK 50, Western States 100, Boston Marathon, Leadville 100, and Comrades.  I plan on knocking off one of those classic races next year. 

4. Organize a Race
I've started and directed two trail races: Buffalo Trace Trail Race (5-miler) and the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run.  Both took loads of work to get off the ground (permits, running club buy-in, sponsors, volunteers, advertising, etc).  Once started, they still take a great deal of commitment to continue...although starting them is much harder than keeping them going.  Do you have a fantastic trail in your local area that you'd like to share with others?  Start a race!

5. Run Shoulder-to-Shoulder with Giants
I suppose they mean race with the trail running elites.  Not sure who counts as an elite, but I have "run with" Eric Clifton and Karl Meltzer at the McNaughton Park 100 miler.  I was only a few feet away from them at the starting line...and each time they looped me, I "ran with them" for a few strides...until they were well down the trail and out of sight.  Still pretty cool.  What other sport allows you to compete right beside the best in the world?

6. Have a Fastpacking Adventure
Can I knock off the Grand Canyon and this one at the same time?  I think the spirit of fastpacking would include a night spent on the trail.  I'm sure I can think up some kind of 2-day, one-night, trail running adventure.  Hmmmm...

7. Declare Your Mission
What do you want to be remembered for?  Do you have a cause greater than simply YOUR running?  Is there a charity you are involved with that could be connected to running?  Care to start a local running program in your community?  I've raised some funds through running, but never really dedicated myself to a cause.  It would be cool to have a serious mission in life that running could help accomplish.  Hmmm...

8. Pace or Crew in an Ultra
I've done this a couple times, most notably at Badwater for Brian Kuhn.  The trip to Death Valley was one of the best running experiences I've ever had.  I helped crew Brian in his 135 mile run from Badwater to the portal at Mt Whitney.  Crewing is very demanding and stressful at times...your runner is counting on you to be there for them.  At Badwater, it's a life or death thing!   I prefer the pacing.  Running alongside a dedicated ultra runner as they try to achieve a challenging goal is very satisfying.  I'd like to do more pacing. 

9. Embrace the Minimalist Spirit
This is a pretty darn ambiguous goal.  I guess the idea is to forgo all the societal trappings and be "one with the trail."  Does that mean running naked?  Could.  How about just running with no technology and no real goal...except to "get away" on the trails?  Sure.  I'm trying to reduce my reliance on technology (no watch, heart rate monitor, GPS, iPod, etc) and utilize more minimalist footwear (barefoot, FiveFinger shoes, racing flats, etc).  It could also be camping before a race, making your own breakfast around a fire, and "showering" with a water bottle and small rag.  Whatever gets you closer to the trail...both figuratively and literally.

10. Be One with Nature
Hey, how's this different than #9 or #6?  Here is their description..."Explore the wild, but do so with open eyes, ears and senses.  Seek out the flora and fauna on your checklist: maybe a black bear, high alpine columbine, a bald eagle, redwoods, a porcupine or some sage that is best savored when crushed between your fingertips and inhaled deeply."   Fine.  I think this just means to appreciate your trail surroundings..enjoy the natural environment.  OK, I can do that.

I have one more...actually two more suggestions.  First, run a trail race with no goal other than to meet other runners, socialize, and go slowly at the back-of-the-pack.  Greet every runner that passes you (or you pass).  If the trail allows, run stride for stride with another runner sharing stories and encouraging them in their running goals.  Don't push the fact, try to be the last finisher.  It's a lot of fun.

Second, train seriously and try to really push it at a race.  Try for a personal record...try to win an age group...try to win the race!  Really give it a go.  No holding it from start to finish.  Train hard and feel confident.  I often try to do well in races, but I rarely try to "do my utmost best" in a race.  Maybe I'm afraid I'll choke...or show myself to be less of a runner than I imagined.  I usually hold back.  I'd love to pick a race, train specifically for it, and let it all hang out.

What are your "life list" trail running goals?  I'm planning on knocking a few out over the next year.  Hope these motivate you to do the same.  


Unknown said...

Will there be a naked division at Clinton this year?

Chris Ⓥ said...

Sweet...we'll make that happen next year! This year I'm implementing an informal barefoot/FiveFingers division. One step at a time.

skye said...

fastpack washington! stevens pass to snoqualmie pass 2 day 1 night. mt rainier wonderland trail 3 days 2 nights, good access for crew!

Chris Ⓥ said...

Mt Rainier trail would be awesome.