For many of us, there’s no other feeling like running through the woods. With birdsong as our soundtrack, horizons as our view and the satisfying feel of mud coating our shins, trail running gives us a spiritual connection to the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer.
Trail running is increasing in popularity at a fast clip, and the number of trail runners have skyrocketed in recent years. This is due in part to the exhilarating natural aspects, but also because it seems to be less wear and tear on our bodies. Since we are trading the stress of repeated pounding on hard pavement for softer surfaces, there is a reduced risk of injury. Plus, there’s the benefit of fresh air, and of course, the allure of getting dirty.
A Festivus For The Rest Of Us
The increased number of trail runners have given rise to a cool new way to experience the sport and be social—trail running festivals. These weekend-long gatherings are popping up all over the country, allowing athletes to compete in multiple races while meeting new people with similar interests. These two-day events usually offer multiple races for different levels. 5k, barefoot 5k, twilight relays, 10k, 25k, 50k and 50 milers occur over the course of both days, so runners can opt for more than one race. Some even offer options so you can complete the course with your dog.
These events are about more than just running, however. There are barbecues, live music, and beer drinking. Most are family friendly, and provide childcare options as well as bounce houses and events for the kids. Accommodations vary, though many opt to camp at nearby campgrounds, further enhancing the spirit of togetherness.
The allure of these weekends is understandable—having hundreds, sometimes thousands of like-minded individuals in one place, competing as well as socializing, sounds like a great time to us. With a solitary sport like running, a chance to connect with others is always fun. Many families will make it a weekend vacation, while other runners take it as some downtime away from the stresses of the office and commitments, treating it like a mini-vacation.
Hot Festivals To Check Out
Expect to see more and more trail running festivals pop us as the sport increases in popularity. Here are a few on our radar.
Jay Peak Trail Running Festival, Jay Peak, Vermont
Jay Peak is known for awesome skiing, but come summer it morphs into an amazing trail running course. Running through the mountains is beautiful (and tough), and the 25k and 50k Ultra are challenging for even elite runners. They offer 3 5k races at different levels—and different times, so you can choose to compete in all 3, if you’re a glutton for punishment. There’s also a kid’s trail run, as well as a tram relay (with teams riding trams up the mountain and then running down). The weekend includes barbecue and beverages, and Jay’s Peak boasts a nearby water park for kid’s play.
Gemini Adventures 24 Hours Of Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
These all day and all night events includes a team relay, solo challenges, 6 hour nighttime fun run, 50K, 100K and 100 mile categories. Trails are along the Boulder Reservoir, with views of the Rockies in sight.
Traverse City Trail Running Festival, Traverse City, Michigan
Twilight relays, kids’ races and post-race celebratory food & drink make this a weekend to remember. Winding through the beautiful Pere Marquette Forest, this is a beautiful setting and easy way to enjoy peaceful trails.
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