Get Busy Living - Page 5
Photo by David Clifford
#5 Run Shoulder-to-Shoulder with Giants
Imagine if you could go back to the early days of your favorite sport and spend time with legends in their prime: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Wilma Rudolph, Walter Payton, Steve Prefontaine, Jackie Joyner Kersee. While trail running is still in its infancy, it has produced world-class performances and athletes.
There is Scott Jurek, the only seven-time winner of the Western States 100. Nikki Kimball, also a Western States champion, who casts a shadow longer than her list of trail-running wins. Wasatch Speedgoat Karl Meltzer, who has won more mountain 100-milers than anybody. Former Trail Runner Trophy Series champion Diane Van Deren, fresh off a 430-mile trail race in the frozen Yukon in early 2009. David Horton has run the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and across the entire country—and is still going strong. Anita Ortiz has been named USATF Mountain Runner of the Year four times and won the 2009 Western States in her 100-miler debut. Simon Gutierrez is a seven-time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team, more than any other U.S. runner. There is even legendary ultrarunner Ann Trason, named the 65th greatest female athlete of all time by Sports Illustrated, who now directs the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 in Oakland, California.
The cozy nature of trail running makes it easy to reach out to and maybe even get to know them. Several top runners maintain blogs and are quick to run some miles with a new friend. Dean Karnazes, author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner and quite possibly the most recognizable trail runner in the world, spends several hours per week emailing with many people he's never met.
"Trail running has introduced me to many lifelong friends," says Karnazes. "It has also introduced me to myself."
And, unlike big road events, in trail races everyone toes the same line at the same time, so you too could queue up right next to Meltzer, Ortiz or Jurek. And some top athletes even offer personal coaching services.