He’s an ex-marine, an avid trail runner and a bacon enthusiast. We’re talking about Ed Melancon, a trail running legend in the making. When he’s not hanging out with his dogs or enjoying a cold one, our favorite Louisianan is embracing the beauty and solitude of nature and tearing up the trails with his Orange Mud Hydra Quiver. Check out our Q&A with Ed to learn why trail running is his way of life.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your running history?
"After getting out of the Marines in 95, I swore that I would never run again. But in 07, I found myself smoking more than two packs of cigarettes a day and drinking like a fish, and I knew I needed to do something about my health. So I looked for the cheapest and easiest form of getting back into shape: running."
2. When did you start?
"In 08 I ran my first race, the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, but finished in just over 4 hours. I wasn’t happy with my time, so I started researching training plans, and, thanks to social media, I finally stumbled onto a training program and some local running groups. That’s when everything changed for me as a runner. Within four months, I shaved over 20 minutes off of my marathon time, and the more I trained, the faster I became. From there, I was introduced to ultras and finally started getting into trail running."
3. When did you decide to start incorporating further distances? What was it about that challenge that intrigued you?
"Once I started on trails, I was hooked. I started out with a small 50k, and in less than a year and a half, I already had a few 50 mile races under my belt and came in 2nd in a local 100 mile race. I find much more pleasure in going long rather than hard and fast. Running is a form of meditation that I find very soothing to my soul, and there’s something primal about ultra-running. It goes deep into our cores. I’m also intrigued by the sense of reward I feel when trying to find out how far I can push myself. When you look back and see how far you have pushed yourself, there is always an over whelming sense of pride."
4. What is it about trail running that you fell in love with?
"While road running you can let your mind wander and solve all of the world’s problems. But on the trail, your mind has to stay engaged or you fall. Even though I fell a lot when I first started running trails, I loved it. Every step was different, and all the twisting and turning on the trail worked my muscles in new ways. It felt good and totally worth the scratches and bruises."
5. Do you have a favorite race memory?
"On the second day of the North Face Endurance Run in Georgia, my friend Brian and I found ourselves on the trail behind a proverbial conga line of slow people. I finally had enough of moving slow so I jumped a few feet off the trail on the uphill side and took off like a rabbit, bushwhacking my way on the uphill incline through the woods. Brian jumped in right behind me.
We finally made it to a point where we were even with the rolling road block, so we turned back toward the trail. After struggling to find a way through the trees and brush, I lost my footing and began sliding out of control. When I hit the trail just a few feet in front of the slow ones, my shoes grabbed some traction, and I was sent flying head over heels into the woods. My bottles went flying out of the Orange Mud HydraQuiver, and I could see the lead that I had worked so hard to gain slipping away quickly. I scurried back up the hill, grabbed my bottles and rejoined the trail right in front of the conga line.
Brian and I finally made it to the finish line, both of us totally beat. Right after we crossed, we were greeted by Dean Karnazes. He had noticed our shirts and asked if we ran the 50 miler yesterday. After we told him yes, he replied, 'That’s bad ass. I like your style.'
It’s not every day you get a compliment from a running legend."
6. What do you love about the running community?
"I love the diversity of the running community. There will be a mix of people, from doctors and lawyers to mechanics and other blue collar workers, but none of that matters on the run. Also, the sense of camaraderie through enduring a run creates a strong bond. Case in point, 14 or so hours into a grueling ultra, one can easily purge their soul to another runner and talk about things that they don’t even talk about with family. If you really want to get to know someone, go run an ultra with them."
7. Tell me a bit about how you found Orange Mud's products and why you like them.
"Once I was hooked on running longer distances, I realized that I needed something to carry fluids and nutrition. I had tried a lot of different brands and types of gear and was never satisfied. I stumbled across the HydraQuiver while researching different hydration options online. I really liked the concept and totally prefer bottles to packs. With a bottle, an aid station volunteer can refill it. If a volunteer rips the seal on your hydration bladder, you’re screwed. With the HydraQuiver you always know how much you have left. I also like the idea of putting the weight higher on the back. Every back packer uses this principle.
I have purchased a lot of Orange Mud products, and after seeing some of the projects they have in the works, I can’t wait to buy more. Even though I have been fortunate enough to become an ambassador for them, I would still buy their products anyway. Not once has OM let me down."