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The Making of a Trail Runner

I’m not quite sure WHEN I decided that I love trails much more than I love the flat sure and steady surface of pavement. But I’m pretty sure I know WHY I love trails – the twists, turns, terrain changes, and scenery – all of which take one’s mind off the time or distance you are asking your body to run. It’s really hard to psychoanalyze oneself to figure out what they do or don’t think about when they run on the roads versus trails, but I find it’s much harder to let yourself be complacent on the trails – the second you do, you are bound to trip on a rock or root.

And with a great group out on the trails the other day for the Lacamas Heritage Trail run, complete with someone tripping and falling on a root, it made me think about trail running and who loves it. We all know Tim Swietlik is a famous trail hater. OK, he doesn’t hate them… he just prefers them to be paved. Yet he still gets out and runs trails on occasion. Part of what has always made Tim a great road runner is a very efficient gait, which in trail terms means he can’t lift his feet. No, it wasn’t Tim who tripped on the trails near Lacamas.

I hesitate to call out Hari as the trail tripper, but it’s a critical part of the story. If you haven’t met Hari or seen his efficient gait, he has a super efficient stride that is tailor-made for cranking out some great road runs and races. And as someone who is a regular with the Sunday morning Starbucks crew, he usually does just that.

Although despite his fall, something Hari said at the post-run breakfast made me wonder if he might have had a trail running epiphany the other day. He thought it was the most beautiful run he had ever been on. Forget about the fall; the scenery was all he remembered. And we’re talking about Lacamas Lake here – sure it’s more scenic than just running along tree after tree with no vista in Forest Park. But it’s no Eagle Creek. Definitely not the Timberline Trail. I suppose it all depends on if you like still versus flowing water, mountains versus ocean views, creeks or wildflower meadows, but all of those are the reasons I love trail running.

There are more organized trail runs to come this winter, but I’ve already been giving some thought to some even more epic scenic runs this summer. I’ve already been thinking we need to revive the Labor Day weekend epic multi-day run – so you might avoid making other plans if you think you would be up for doing a run around Mt Hood that weekend. Three days of 15 or so mile runs in some of my favorite scenery, followed by camping out with some of the best folks on earth (complete with organized food and a shuttle to bring stuff around so that all you need to do is enjoy a scenic run, take photos, and grab a cold beer and sit around the fire at the end of the day). And I’ve been toying with the idea of a multi-day adventure on the Rogue River Trail at the end of the September to celebrate turning 40 (the trail is 40 miles long, so it seems appropriate). Details about both of those adventures will come along shortly, but in the meantime, don’t forget we have the Klickitat River coming up Feb 12 and Eagle Creek on Feb 26. See you on the trails!

Photos from Lacmamas Heritage Trail Run

Photos from 2007 Labor Day run around Mt Hood


2 Responses to “The Making of a Trail Runner”

  1. I’m new to Portland — a recent transplant from Ashland. I’m looking forward to joining the group on the Klickitat next month. As for multi-day events, those sound awesome as well. I’ve not run around Mt. Hood, but have run the PCT in that area and it’s spectacular. I’ve also had the privilege of running those 40 miles along the wild and scenic section of the Rogue. It’s an experience that’s hard to beat — seeing wildflowers too numerous to name, waving to the rafters, and encountering the local wildlife. Looking forward to hearing more about this year’s trail events.

    Posted by Anne Crispino-Taylor | January 30, 2012, 4:20 pm

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