A trail running primer

People learn in different ways: Some like pictures, and others prefer numbers.

Then there are those like me, a self-proclaimed word nerd.

That’s right. If you want to teach this dog a new trick, the best way is to hand him a book. Or magazine. Or anything else in print on the topic of interest.

So it’s no surprise that when a new passion percolates, all manner of published matter piles up around the house. It overflows bedside tables, crowds study bookshelves and spills onto other available surfaces.

Guess what I’ve been reading about since early 2009? You guessed it — running.

My current curiosity is trail running, which I recently learned more about from an informative magazine and awe-inspiring article on the topic. I decided to blog about them this week for fellow word nerds eager to learn more about running off-road.

Wikipedia has this to say: Trail running is a variant on running that differs markedly from road running and track running. Trail running generally takes place on hiking trails, most commonly single track trails, although fire roads are not uncommon.

I’ve done two bona fide trail runs — one in Indiana and another in Connecticut. I’ve also run dozens of times on city and county paths, though I’m not sure they count as the real deal.

If you want to learn more about trail running, a good current source is The Trail, Runner’s World’s special trail running issue published last month. It taught me about Killian Jornet, a rising 23-year-old Spanish ultra athlete who’s dominating the trail running scene. It also explained the history and attraction of the Dipsea, the mother of all trail races that started 106 years ago in San Francisco And it highlighted 25 great trail running routes.

The Trail, Runner's World's special issue on trail running.

I also read about an amazing trail running competition in the May 2011 issue of Runner’s World. The Barkley Marathons is a series of five 26.2 mile trail races, each of which runners must begin no more than 12 hours after they start the previous one. Gary Cantrell, the race director, is a crusty old man who begins the annual marathons by lighting a cigarette. For a full sense of the demand and difficulty of the multi-day competition, which only eight people have finished in all its years, grab a copy of the magazine.

The May 2011 Runner's World has a great article on the Barkley Marathons.

Like I said earlier, I’ve only run two true trail routes. They were both enjoyable — just hard to get to and make time for.

I recently blogged about my run on Camp Ernest Thompson Seton’s Yellow Trail in Greenwich, CT. It was a blast, and the early spring weather was perfect for the 2.5-mile loop through woods and over water.

A Camp Seton Yellow Trail medallion.

I ran the other — the Wabash Heritage Trail in Lafayette, IN — last year. Learn more about it at http://www.indianatrails.org/Wabash_Heritage.htm. I hit the trail in downtown Lafayette and ran about four miles north toward the Tippecanoe Battlefield before turning around and heading back.

The Wabash Heritage Trail in Lafayette, IN is a great place for a trail run.

Try trail running. You can start by checking out the blogs and web sites hyperlinked on the right. It’s a fun and challenging alternative to the road, and I look forward to doing more of it.

Happy running!

Kansas City Runner

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About Kansas City Runner

Kansas City Runner blogs on cool places to run, walk and cycle in Kansas City and beyond.
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