My running partner and I have been using the trails as a way to connect for nearly a decade. We’ve bonded over dirt, week after week, pounding out miles while discussing the complexities of human nature, supporting one another through family illnesses and simply enjoying light-hearted chats about life. Trails are good like that—they connect us to ourselves, to nature and most importantly, to one another.
Forgetting we’re out there doing something we love, or taking the trails for granted as we trip on a rock or dive face-first into the mud is easy to do, which is why it’s important to take a step back and celebrate the places we run.
This special issue of UltraRunning Magazine celebrates the trails. We’ve dedicated pages to trail history, research and work on the trails and unique stories about the places we’re running. We’ve also included breathtaking images from all over the globe because, as the sport continues to grow, so does our connection with the trails.
It’s that connection that keeps us coming back. The nuances of running a trail race can bond us with old and new friends when we see familiar faces on a remote trail, discuss certain sections of a course or just find ourselves running behind a stranger and making small talk. These are all common occurrences during an ultra trail race. We’re used to running alone for miles at a time, with our only reassurance being mile markers as a small reminder that we’re indeed in the midst of a race. It’s a lonely feeling, but it’s also a way to connect with ourselves. Paying attention to how our body is feeling and making sure we’re problem-solving as we go is what ultrarunning is all about: moving forward through nature to successfully reach the finish line.
Forgetting we’re out there doing something we love, or taking the trails for granted as we trip on a rock or dive face-first into the mud is easy to do, which is why it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the places we run.
In this issue, Buzz Burrell writes about running on public land on page 54 and Andrew Miller pays tribute to his Tuesday Trail Work crew on page 14. Jeff Kozak writes about five adventure runs in the Eastern Sierra on page 24, and Nick Tiller, PhD, MRES, gives us an in-depth look at the difficulty of performing research on endurance athletes in remote locations on page 40.
The trails connect us to our ancestors and the Indigenous peoples who came before us, and we now use many of those same trails to connect with ourselves and one another as we train, race and adventure. Hopefully our Trails issue inspires you to do all of the above.