See more on Ultra running
Why I Love Trail Running
Tom Borschel, 43 Idaho falls, Idaho
How I got hooked: "I fell in love with trail running when I took a
land-surveying course my freshman year of college. Four of us had to survey
and map an entire 1,500-foot-high mountain above the University of Utah. To
speed up the project, I ran up and down the mountain carrying survey
equipment. My group finished in record time. I've forgotten everything about
surveying, but I still love trail running."
Peak trail moment: "When I was doing my best running in the late '80s, I ran
the Squaw Peak Challenge in Squaw Valley, Calif. It's a 3.6-mile ascent,
including an elevation gain of 2,300 feet. What I'll always remember from
that race is the helpless look on one guy's face -- he was actually a 2:12
marathoner -- as I pulled away from him on the uphill."
Why I love it: "It's all great -- the sounds and sights, the goose bumps I
get in a chilly breeze, my rasping breath at altitude, the whiteness that
surrounds me when I'm running in a cloud."
Jordan Woods, 20 Davis, Calif.
How I got hooked: "During high school I lived in the Bay Area of California,
and did my best running in the San Mateo Hills. I ran there every day of the
summer before my sophomore year of cross-country."
Peak trail moment: "One of my training buddies and I would always run a
trail that had a 1-mile downhill section at the end. It was narrow, and had
lots of curves, cliffs, and wooded sections. We'd race it like two Indy
cars, complete with race commentary. One slip in a number of spots would've
been the end of our running, but is was so exhilarating we couldn't stop
Why I love it: "I still do it for the excitement and adventure. And I always
feel re-energized afterward."
Erin Renken, 23 Boise, Idaho
How I got hooked: "I'd run track and cross-country for years, but discovered
trail running on my own when I was at the University of Wyoming. I'd head
out from Laramie, always looking for new trails to run."
Peak trail moment: "It happened on the Cactus Canyon Trail near Laramie.
There were 3 inches of new snow, and I was the first one on the trail. The
snow crunched under my feet, and everything looked perfect and still. At the
top of a big hill, I saw the sun come up. I had to stop and watch."
Why I love it: "It's as simple as this: Trail running is my passion, stress
relief, and exercise all in one. Every trail run brings something new."
Meghan Arbogast, 39 Corvallis, Oreg.
How I got hooked: "I grew up on a farm surrounded by woods, so it was
natural for me to hike and run everywhere. Years later, I was introduced to
trail running by my coach here in Corvallis. I loved it immediately, because
it reminded me of my childhood romps on our farm."
Peak trail moment: "I experience lots of peak moments in the McDonald Forest
near Corvallis. My favorite trail includes a 3,000-foot climb followed
immediately by a 1,000-foot descent. Near the end I'm running on a soft bed
of pine needles in a quiet stand of tall Douglas firs."
Why I love it: "Trail running is my fountain of youth. When I'm on the
trail, I feel like a child again, completely relaxed and at peace. No matter
how tired or stressed I am going into the run, I'm always refreshed at the
end of it."
Christine Baldoni, 38 Poitiers, France
How I got hooked: "I live in the countryside of France now, but I fell in
love with trail running in Boulder, Colo., 2 years ago when I visited for 3
months. I'd meet up with a group in town on Sunday mornings, and we'd drive
to a trail about 3,000 feet above Boulder for long runs."
Peak trail moment: "I was on an escarpment trail overlooking Hamilton,
Ontario. I saw a man walking toward me with what looked like a very large
dog beside him. As I drew closer, I slowed down and realized it was a fawn.
The man had been walking in the woods, and the deer had just started
following him. Since I was heading back where he'd come from, I figured I'd
try to persuade the deer to follow me. I started running, looked over, and
saw the deer running beside me."
Why I love it: "I enjoy the trails in France, and run them often. But what I
really love is the wildlife and maple trees on the wilderness trails in
North America. I can't wait to return."
Brian Manley, 36 Aurora, Colo.
How I got hooked: "After my first 10-K many years ago, I committed myself to
get faster and run farther, and trails seemed like the best place to do
Peak trail moment: "I was at mile 68 of the Leadville Trail 100-Mile race a
few years ago. I'd just shuffled away from an aid station into complete
darkness. I looked up, and I'd never seen a sky so filled with stars. The
Milky Way literally went from one end of the horizon to the other; the
entire sky seemed alive with pulsing lights."
Why I love it: "I've run countless road 10-Ks, half-marathons, and
marathons -- including Boston twice -- but those occasions have never given
me the high I feel cruising along a soft dirt trail through a grove of aspen
trees, or around a high mountain lake surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks."
Kevin Rassier, 41 Maple Grove, Minn.
How I got hooked: "I live next to a large nature preserve near Minneapolis
and began running on the grass trails to reduce the pounding on my legs.
Soon it became much more than that."
Peak trail moment: "One morning I almost ran into a huge buck. All of a
sudden I was eye-to-eye with this awesome animal. I was scared he might
charge. He gave a big snort, then turned and ran down the hill ahead of me."
Why I love it: "I see so many animals from the trail, including trumpeter
swans, beavers, woodchucks, foxes, deer, skunks, raccoons, and other smaller
mammals and birds. At the same time, trail running is an incredible workout.
I believe I could replace my speedwork with more trail running, and I'd be
Edward Dowling, Jr., 37 Allenhurst, N.J.
How I got hooked: "I started running trails by accident. One day I decided
to run in New Jersey's Hartshorn Woods Park, from where you can view the
Raritan River and Bay, the mouth of the Hudson, the Atlantic Ocean, and the
New York City skyline all during one run. I immediately fell in love with
the challenge, the hills, and the scenery."
Peak trail moment: "The best time was when I got lost in Hartshorn, even
though I was carrying a map. I circled around aimlessly for probably 15
miles and loved every minute. The views were spectacular."
Why I love it: "Trails give me the time and space to think -- simple as
Christa Lloyd, 18 Green Mountain Galls, Colo.
How I got hooked: "I ran cross-country all through high school, but I didn't
really like trails until my dad started training with the Incline Club in
Manitou Springs, Colo. He kept inviting me out with him on Thursdays and
Sundays, and finally I went. It ended up being a lot of fun."
Peak trail moment: "I love when I find a hilly trail with lots of rocks to
jump over and mud to run through."
Why I love it: "It's more interesting than running on roads, and I feel so
engaged and aware on the trails. You have to stay alert at all times."
Bernie Boettcher, 38 Silt, Colo.
How I got hooked: "As a kid I always loved to explore, to go trekking
through the woods. When I started running again 2 years ago (I hadn't run
since high school), I realized that trail running allowed me to do this
Peak trail moment: "At the 2000 World Sky Games Half-Marathon, I climbed for
7 gray, foggy miles up the Matterhorn from Zermatt, Switzerland, to
Cervinia, Italy. After struggling up the final glacial ridge, I popped out
of the fog. A line of photographers all shouted, "Americano! Americano!" A
helicopter was whirring directly overhead in the intense sunshine. It was
Why I love it: "I love to explore wilderness areas on foot. Trail running in
remote locales is how I keep in touch with primitive nature."