This time of year in the Northeast with leaves falling and cool, crisp days always encourages me to find a trail to run or race. At some point every runner should get off the roads, away from the track, and onto the trails and the mud. According to coach, author, and Olympian Jeff Galloway, running on trails “is powerful and primitive.” He says “positive empowerment comes from almost every trail run I do. I look for trails wherever I go.” A good place to start is with the American Trail Running Association at www.trailrunner.com which lists places where you can get down and dirty in 48 states.
The Outdoor Industry’s estimate of the number of trial runners in the U.S. is about 5 million. One trail race I still have to try is the Ugly Mudder, a 7.25 mile trail run in Reading, PA. The race is known for their hilarious entry forms, which advise runners that “you alone are responsible for your welfare at all times. If you get dinged, please crawl to a point where you can hitch a ride back to the start with your one remaining hand.” The race’s post-race party at the finish is always popular, “that is, if you GET to the finish! There is a LOT you have to conquer before you get there, including your fear of entering in the first place.”
Then there is the Grand Canyon Double Crossing, a rim-to-rim-to-rim adventure from one side of the canyon to the other and back again. It's about a 50-mile round trip depending on the route and how lost you get following it. Not surprisingly, this trail run is not sanctioned by the National Park Service.