Taking Up Trails - Page 2
There Is a Pre-Race Meeting for a Reason
Trail-race courses do not always follow a single trail, and may feature trail junctions requiring abrupt turns, which may appear illogical. With multiple trail systems likely in the vicinity of trail-race venues, which are usually state parks, Forest Service or BLM land, paying attention to course markings is crucial. "Make sure you are always running with your head up," says Jeremy Duncan, an experienced trail runner in Carbondale, Colorado, who is notorious for getting lost. "It's easy to zone out while racing, but make sure you pay attention to your surroundings."
Most trail-race websites offer course maps with detailed directions, so study them carefully. Due to inclement weather or public trail usage, like hikers and bikers, race-day course changes may occur. Attending a pre-race meeting will provide such information.
Pack it in; pack it out
Just because you're racing, it doesn't mean the "Leave No Trace" policy suddenly no longer applies to you. "We have a strict policy at our events," says Morgan Murri, founder and race director of the Pagosa Peak Trail Series in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. "If you litter and we see you or someone reports you, you are out." There are no large clean-up crews on trails and your trash could be harmful to wildlife.
Most land-use permits require that the race organizers remove all trash after the event so trail races usually have a "Sweeper," someone who runs the course after the race and picks up anything left behind. "Probably 90 percent of the trash you find on the course will be gel packets," says Glen Delman of Boulder, Colorado, who has swept many trail-race courses in his day. "They get sticky and people don't want to stuff them back in their packs." If you need to lighten your load, wait until you reach an aid station.
All trails are different -- unlike the painful sameness of pavement—and that is what makes trail running exciting. "Almost every race has a different personality. From flat, fast trails to rolling Midwestern plains to gnarly, high-altitude, trails," says Joe Prusaitis, race director of Texas' Tejas Trails. "So for your first race pick a trail that fits your personality."