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The Top Trail Races for the Ultimate Trail Runner

The Top Trail Races for the Ultimate Trail Runner

Trail racing has come to stay, no doubt about that. The total freedom and abandon availed you while running in the most deserted of places, and away from the contraptions of modern life is incomparable. But for the very same reasons, trails are not for the faint of heart. the rocks, woods and creeks, all the little bits and pieces that make the difference between running on the asphalt and on a trail.

For whatever reason you decide to do a trail run, do not forget to get adequately prepared for the run. Getting a whiff of fresh country air to fill up your lungs is more than enough reason to switch the asphalt for the trail and get kicking. With the right equipment and tools on ground, picking the trail to run is the next step closer to the adventure of trail running.

For anyone willing to take the run that has attracted millions of new runners over the years, here is a run through of some of the best trail races being held around the globe.

  1. Safaricom marathon takes you through Kenya as you run in the shadow of the impressive Mount Kenya. This race not only takes you and some one thousand other runners through the beauty of Kenya’s conservatory, but also means some more money for the conservation efforts as well as the community. Every June, feel free to take a hike and soak up the beauty of Kenya. 
  2. Endurance Life Coastal series, Lulworth Cove, Dorset. The breathtaking coastal scenery warms your insides even as you fight the fatigue of the Jurassic coast path and the Devon and Northumberland coastal trails. Enjoy a bit of history as the trail winds through the Durdle Door arch and relax your aching muscles in the afterparty.
  3. Mont Blanc France. Run along one of the oldest trails ever, located in France. The trail takes you from Chamonix square through a 26mile run that passes through the valleys surrounding the city. The beauty of western Europe is revealed along this trail, in the quaint hamlets, meadows and the beauty of the mountains (well, be ready for some climbing). Are you up to this challenge?
  4. Imogene Pass Run, Colorado takes you through the San Juan peaks. Beginning at Ouray, and through a dirt road that runs about 17 miles, this traditional Colorado trail takes runners through the highest point of the Imogene Pass, some 13,000 plus feet high and then back down through Tomboy road and into Telluride.
  5. Jungle Marathon Brazil; well the name pretty much says it all, prepare for a wild run peppered with snake infested, mosquito swarming swamps. The race starts with several jungle survival trainings and acclimatization period, and as if it wasn’t scary enough, the base camp from where the races begin can only be reached via boat ride; what more could possibly be more challenging?
  6. X-Terra Trail Run World Championship Hawaii; open to all and sundry, despite the competitive looking names. This trail takes runners through 13.1 miles of dense jungle, steep mountain routes with beautiful glimpses of the ocean and through lush pastures along this North Eastern shore of Oahu.
  7. Cadar Idris mountain race Dollgellau Wales takes you through steep, ice covered Cader Idris up the Pony Path to the peak, a whooping 3000ft climb that will grant you enough buzz to take you till the next race.
  8. Isle of Jura Fell Race Scotland. This race requires some intricate navigation skills and about 4 hours as you race through seven mountain peaks covering over 28 kilometers. Get rewarded with amazing views of the Hebrides and the opportunity to spot some rare wildlife along the trail.

How to Start Trail Running. Quick Tips To Your First Trail Run.

How to Start Trail Running. Quick Tips To Your First Trail Run.

Trail running, in the simplest of terms is simply the sport of hiking and running over remote trails. This differs from track running as seen in most gymnastic sports and road running as trail running mostly is done over mountainous regions and covers a much longer distance than the previous two and even the related cross-country running. The allure of trail running has grown over the years as can be seen in steady increases in the number of people involved, an increase of over a million within 6 years in the sport as documented in Northern America.

The allure of trail running lies in the remoteness and reduced stress as opposed to road races. Hundreds of organized trail running events have been held over the years and the popularity keeps growing.

For anyone contemplating an involvement in this sport there are some important things to put in place to ensure a good race which will leave lasting positive memories. As with any other sport, trail running has its own set of equipment, precautions and rules to be followed. Getting started on trail running requires at least the basic underlisted tools and knowledge for a good run.

Invest in good trail running shoes: specially designed rigid running shoes with knobby soles have been prescribed as the best for trail running. These shoes, although less cushioned than does designed for running on road tarmac, nevertheless have been nylon plastic fitted midsole, to protect the feet from punctures from sharp edged rocks and other possibly harmful components on the trail. The best trail running shoes are low to the ground in other to provide better stability over the uneven terrain which the trail covers. 

Feet Landing: How your foot lands on the ground matter. It is advisable to always land on the ground with your midfoot because if you run on heels you will end up running too fast and you will put strain on your knees and shins. Avoiding strain on the knees and shins makes the adventure less stressful, enjoyable and you can run for longer periods.

Posture/ Hand and Arm Position: Posture is very important in running and running actually helps to improve the overall posture. There are different stances taken by runners, depending on their level of expertise and the type of practice they have had pre-run. Lengthen your spine; keep your weight equally on both feet. Lean forward, and imagine your feet as a sort of center which allows your spine and upper body swing freely, transferring your weight equally between your heels when leaning backward and the front of your feet when leaning forward. Always try to lengthen your spine while running and feel your weight beneath your feet.

Breathe In The Fresh Air, Take A Minute To Savour Nature: there is an ongoing belief that trail running is so attractive because it provides an opportunity to reconnect with nature and let the primal parts of the soul get some air. So, when on a trail run, remember not to get too technical, and do not let the competition get to you, but rather let the trail be your companion, and nature your friend.

Plan Ahead and Stay Safe: nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without proper planning. Train appropriately and trace out your route ahead of time. Plan with the group appropriately and take note of your rhythm and strengths. The route and relief points should be well mapped out also and remember to always run with a friend to reduce injuries and the risk of getting lost.

Pack Light:  a change of clothes, water bottle, insect repellant, headlamp or flashlight, and a towel. Pack the basics and you’re good to go.

As you go for the adventures on the mountains try to enjoy nature, have fun and get some much needed exercise. Cheers to a good time trail running.



Everything You Need To Know About Winter Traction

Everything You Need To Know About Winter Traction

If you plan to spend any time outdoors this winter, it’s never too early to start thinking about winter traction – especially if you enjoy outdoor activities like cross-country skiing, hiking and mountaineering. While many people tend to think of “winter traction” as being a one-size-fits-all type of option, there are actually several different options that you have, depending on the type of terrain you are facing.

If you’re going to be in deep powder…

If you enjoy skiing or snowboarding, you probably know the thrill and excitement of carving through fresh powder. However, if you’re trying to walk through that deep powder, you’re going to have problems because without the right winter traction, you’ll sink right into the deep snow, maybe all the way up to your knees. And then moving through that powder is going to require a significant amount of energy.

The solution here is a snowshoe that essentially lets you “float” or “glide” above the surface of the loose, powdery snow. The extra bonus here is that some models of snowshoes have a crampon system built-in and integrated as part of the snowshoe. This helps you navigate slick, icy terrain that might have just received a fresh day’s worth of powder.

Buying recommendation:  Tubbs Flex VRT

Tubbs Flex VRT ($260)

If you’re going to be traveling along icy, rocky terrain or along a mountainside…

Anytime you encounter a mix of ice and rock, you’re going to need the deepest penetration possible. This calls for crampons, which are sometimes referred to as ice spikes. The name says it all – they are metal spikes designed to dig into a hard, packed surface and give you plenty of winter traction.

Moreover, any time you are climbing up an angled surface (such as a hill or mountain), you will want to use crampons. As soon as you see these crampons, you’ll instantly recognize how useful they can be – they are essentially thick metal spikes that can give you much surer footing and maximize your safety.

There’s just one issue here, of course, and that’s that they can require a lot of time and energy to use. You’re going to be slowed down as you travel, and you’re going to expend a lot of energy. If you think about this, it makes sense, right? Unlike the snowshoe solution, you are literally digging into a hard, packed surface with every single step.

Buying recommendation:  Irvis Crampon Flexlock 000 by Petz


Petzl Irvis Flexlock 10-Point Crampon


 If you’re going to be hiking through hard, packed snow or ice…

As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to use trailspikes (sometimes called snow cleats or shoe spikes) any time you’re traveling along hard, packed snow or icy trails. The trailspike traction system helps you establish your footing, and are much more effective than traditional winter boots.

If you’re having a hard time imagining what a trailspike traction system looks like, the best analogy involves your car’s tires. Once it starts snowing outside, you probably put on thick winter treads that are able to grip the snow. The tires have a bit of give to them, which slows you down a bit, but it results in a smooth ride over snowy roads. When things get really icy and treacherous outside, though, it’s time to start thinking about the winter tire chains. Well, the trailspikes are analogous to those winter tire chains, right down to the way they can be fitted over a traditional boot tread.

Buying recommendation: Yatta Life Trailspikes


Yatta Life Microspike Shoe Grip

As you can see, you have a variety of options when it comes to getting the best possible winter traction. Your first option is probably to reach for the trailspikes, but for particularly icy and rocky conditions, you’ll want a set of professional mountaineering crampons. And if you find yourself in a lot of open powder, you’ll want to think in terms of snowshoes that will help you to glide effortlessly over the surface.

Cover Photo by: Andrew Robles