When I started to take my running seriously the natural progression for me was to sign up to many road races. These not only tested what I had learned in my training but they tested my mental capabilities to push through the pain barriers which would eventually come in a race. What left me feeling more and more empty inside about road running was the lack of love for the fellow runner. You could spend a whole marathon slogging it out and not one person except the volunteer drink station crew would acknowledge that you were there!
I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me but I am a social person and perhaps I am just overly friendly with strangers but I figure if we are going to train and slog our hearts out to run 42km or more, we might as well make it an enjoyable experience!
I still remember my first trail run, The Southern Highlands Challenge. I signed up with my daughter and we ran in the 6km event together. I remember the whole way talking to people and pointing out to my daughter how amazing the scenery was and breathing in the crisp highland air thinking that life just couldn’t get any better than this. It sure beat running along some man-made freeway with traffic blasting by or around and around suburban streets where there was no beauty.
Nature was at my fingertips and I thirsted for more.
I jumped at the chance to run my next trail event and didn’t even care that it was two weeks after I had just run the Adelaide marathon. I snapped up some entries into the Coastal Classic 30km race and enlisted my friends Jenny and Nat to come along.
The whole event was amazing. People stopped and chatted to you, even took your photo and the food…well that made it even more appealing. There was no rush as I soaked up the coastline pausing along the way to take in the views. I was just so inspired to climb and run and take in all of that course that I could. I didn’t even care about my time.
Now I yearn to seek out trails before I seek out road. Why? Because I feel like it gives something back to me. I guess I feel like a kid in a candy store picking out the best choice of lollies. I am seeking out the best views, the most gorgeous single tracks, the hidden gems of national parks, the quite places, the GLORY of nature.
I was standing in the National park with some RMA girls a few weeks ago in the pouring rain on our run and I told everyone to look up. You could see every large drop of rain flowing down from the heavens. When else would you ever do that? Stop to look up? You wouldn’t do it would you? On a trail you feel like you can do it. (unless your in a race and its a single track – don’t do it there!)
Don’t get me wrong, I still love a road event, and I believe they have their place in my running schedule, but give me a trail event in it’s place and I don’t think it would be hard for me to pick which one I would rather do!
Unfortunately I have had to pull out of two of my most exciting trail races this year due to injury, but luckily I had done some training on them. The training was almost as fun as the race itself and seriously had my eyes popping out of my head with wonder at the amazing places that I saw….the flowing streams, the glorious valleys, the steep mountains, the souring cliffs, the worn trail stairs, the winding tracks…..
Trails make me “feel”. They draw me in and spit me out of their enchantment a happier person. They make me take time to stop and reflect and truly LOOK around me.
They make me free.