Spring Fever

For me, early spring has always been a time of anticipation, optimism, and excitement. The days feel long again, the sun shines down with an intensity that isn’t felt in the winter months, and everything and everyone seems to wake up and begin to prepare for what lies ahead. As much as I love winter, by this time of year I am always ready for the excitement of spring. This year is certainly no exception.

On a personal level I have so many things I’m optimistic and excited about right now. This is the first edition of a yet-unnamed, bi-weekly column that I’ll be writing here on iRunFar. I’ve always loved writing, but I have a hard time feeling creative and productive in my writing unless I have assignments to keep me in practice. I think having an assignment “due” every couple weeks will be the perfect dynamic to keep me in practice, and to keep some interesting ideas flowing from my mind to the keyboard. Or so we can hope.

I’m also at a place in which I’m more optimistic and excited about my coming months of running than I have been in quite some time. Despite having just completed a 350-mile race a few weeks ago, I feel as though I’ve had an extended break from running since mid-December, and I feel this is just what my mind and body needs. Almost all of the running I have done since December has been on snow, usually in snowshoes, at a very slow pace, and often walking. When I lace up the shoes and head out for my first post Iditarod Trail Invitational run sometime in the next few days, I suspect that running will feel more alien to me than it has any time in the last few years. With this unfamiliarity fueling me, I will get to come back to running in a place which best suits my mind, body, and spirit at this time, and not based nearly as much on previous ideas about what running is to me. I think of it as a chance to realign myself with my running, and this really excites me.

When I get back into the habit of running every day, I will undoubtedly begin to shift much of my focus to preparation for the Hardrock 100. I don’t know what’s more exciting for me, the notion of taking part in this event, or all the runs I’ll “need” to do to prepare for it. I’ve always preferred really steep, rugged mountain terrain. I think training on this type of terrain is a huge benefit, even for flatter races, but never before have I done a race in which the training that I like to do all the time will be the perfect training. What this all means is that I will likely spend even more time than usual high up in the mountains this spring and summer, and I’m nothing but terribly excited for this.

Looking beyond my individual situation, I think this is also a really exciting and optimistic time for the sport of trail running. The variety of events and athletes which make up the sport right now is so much greater than it was just a few years ago. The popularity of trail and mountain running is growing rapidly around the planet, and this is bringing together folks from so many different cultures, bound by a single passion for traveling on foot through wild, rugged, and scenic places. It is becoming a truly global sport and I think this is a very exciting thing. Whether you’re driven by the opportunity to compete against runners from around the world; in locations around the world; or whether you simply love to run in new and exciting places – and love to share that experience with like-minded individuals – it’s a great time to be a trail runner.

There are more events than ever to choose from that suit anyone and everyone’s tastes. Most of these events (either directly or indirectly) help promote sustainable trail/land use, and encourage or participate in trail maintenance and development. More than ever before, the popularity of trail running is fueling the creation of more places to go trail running.

I think it is also a really exciting time for the competitive side of the sport. As trail running has grown in popularity, so too have the amount of races and runners that are focused more on the competitive aspects of trail running. As more events distinguish themselves in this way, more runners are drawn in from road running and other competitive sports, as they realize they can have their competitive interests met doing something as natural and satisfying as running in the mountains. I have taken part in a lot of different sports over the years, and have had a lot of fun doing so, but not one of them has ever felt nearly as natural and satisfying as running on trails through the mountains.

There has been much speculation over the past couple years about what will happen as more of this “new breed” of athlete comes to the sport of trail running. Even now, you regularly see people debating the impact that top marathon runners will have as they are drawn into the sport by races with more prize money and more focus on high level competition. The thing is that this is no longer a thing of the future; this is a thing that is already here and has been here for quite some time. There are dozens of trail races offering more than a $1000 prize for the winner, including a few offering $5000 or more. These events have already led to the expected result of drawing some top road runners to the sport. It is no longer a question of what will happen when several sub-2:20 marathoners start running trail races, because this has already happened.

The result of all of this: Several really fast road runners have been humbled and awed by the ability of the “slower trail runners;” several really strong and accomplished trail runners have been humbled and awed by the raw ability of the road runners; and, most importantly, a lot of really exciting racing has occurred. Of the dozen or more sub-2:20 marathoners that have taken on competitive trail running in the past few years, I can’t think of a single one who hasn’t been beaten on the trails at least once, in most cases by runners whose marathon PR is 15+ minutes slower than theirs. Conversely, most of these road runners have run some very impressive races, and will likely continue to improve as they become more comfortable on the trails.

Thus, it is no longer a question of what will happen when trail running goes through these changes. The changes have come, and the sport has become more exciting and diverse than ever before. Things will certainly continue to grow and evolve, but this is no longer a thing to anticipate or fear about the future, it is here and now, and in its wake it has left a level of anticipation, optimism, and excitement beyond any that has ever existed in trail running. Or maybe it’s just the return of the warm, sunny weather that has me feeling this way.

At any rate, I am super excited to see where things go from here – both in my individual running and in the sport of trail running as a whole. Anyone else feeling this excitement?

Run Like Geoff Roes Giveaway

To kick of the new column, we’re giving away a “Run Like Geoff Roes” prize pack made up of my favorite trail running gear and nutritional products. To enter, just leave a comment on this article [on the website, not as an email] before the next installment of my column on April 11. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s what the winner, Megan of Run Aimlessly, won:

Call for Comments

  • What are you most anticipating as we enter spring?
  • What aspects of the sport of trail running are you most excited about at the moment?
  • Do you have a suggestion for a column name? If so, fire away! (We reserve the right to use any of the suggestions!)

There are 848 comments

  1. Katherine Welch

    Hi Geoff,

    CONGRATULATIONS on your Iditarod victory!

    I am also very excited about the world of ultrarunning! Where I live in Thailand (just moved here from China), running is popular, but ultrarunning is just budding. The first ultra – The North Face 100km – was held in Feb of this year and I was privileged to be a participant (I also won the women's division). I've started an ultraunning club, and while there aren't too many people who like to run long, at least I have someone to run with for at least part of my long runs!

    Ultra races are few and far between – usually it requires international travel – so our group has to make up our own little races locally just for fun! I'm in the midst of planning a 6/12/24 hour run here in July.

    Thailand has many beautiful mountains and hills, but not as many trails as you would think, so 90% of my training is on the road. One of the things that I hope to do in the future is to develop more of the trails or dirt roads for trail-running. The more people interested in running trails, the more interest there will be for development. Still, there are may beautiful rural roads through wonderful little villages with the friendliest people. Since I just moved here it is fun to explore new routes. I just heard of a 90km loop that I'm just salivating to complete!

    So, just like many things in running and the rest of life, anything is possible if you just put your mind (and your legs) to it!

    Please come and visit beautiful Thailand!

    Katherine

  2. Jeff Smucker

    Well said. I come from the roads but have finally learned how to run the technical stuff. Now I don't run many road races anymore. Trails are too fun.

  3. Ian

    I love reading your blog and am looking forward to the articles that you will be writing here. Perfect inspiration for Track season!

  4. Bill

    Nice article. It's going to be a great year for racing and in my dreams, I'm sprinting the last mile for the finish line with you!

  5. Michelle

    I feel the excitement!! This year looks to be a great running year for a lot of people, me included. I'm looking forward to your next article.

  6. kelly bradbury

    Anticipating running in shorts daily…

    Most excited about running/biking on trails in southeast Idaho (a magical, rather unpopulated landscape)…

    Name for site = "Roeminations"

  7. Kris

    I feel bad for the skiers and cross my fingers for rain, rain , rain to fend of forest fire here in CO…..but this spring I am most excited about the high country opening up "early" – especially after last years epic snowpack. High country here we come!

    Column name suggestion – Roes Colored Glasses

  8. Jason

    Most excited about the trails opening up and being able to get in the mountains more. Thanks for the words and good luck this season.

  9. Wayne

    Hey, irunfar's great, and getting better – thanks! It's been one of my inspirations to 'run all my hikes' here in the Swiss Alps. Cheers!

  10. Nigel Fishburn

    I think you are right, the competition for the sport is great, however as a middle of the pack runner I don't think you can beat the friendship and kinsman ship of the long trail races in comparison to the road racing scene,

  11. Paolo

    Nice article! I hope more and more road runners will continue to join the trail racing. It is going to be good for the sport ( and for them …)

  12. KeithPowell

    Congrats on iditarod! Your blog on the race was awesome. I'm excited that you're looking forward to running again. Reading your thoughts before Alaska had me a little bummed, I'm a big fan, and your new enthusiasm has got me pumped. I'm running my first ultra (uroc) in Sept. Can't wait. Long time trail runner soon to be newbie ultra runner..if I don't dnf. You're the best ambassador for running period. Humble and tenacious.

  13. Billy

    Top article. I'm in Australia, but still looking forward to Spring, we're headed off to Austria to escape the Tasmanian cold.

  14. Chuck Swanson

    Great article to kick things off. I like reading about trail runners and seeing the photos they take. Not a lot of things like that to see here in Nebraska. Keep up the great work on your pieces and thanks for contributing to the site!

    Chuck S.
    Lincoln, NE

  15. RIchard Ferron

    Wow! Nice contest!!!

    Trail running is getting quite popular and it's great since there are more and more races BUT I hate when a race becomes so popular that you have to register a year in advance or have a lottery or something like that.

    Looking forward to your future columns!

    Crossing my finger for the contest!

    Richard

  16. David MacDonald

    Nice column !

    With the growing popularity, we'll see more and more natural talented runners surfacing, more kick-ass competitions and new innovations in running gear … i'm soooo glad to be in it !

    Really hope to lay my hands on the prize, my gear is really getting old !

    Best Regards,

    David

  17. Jen

    I love the new smells of spring, as I am running the trails I take in deep breaths of all the new budding trees and bushes. My favorite indulgence is the sweet smell of lilacs, almost better than chocolate cake or a long massage! Looking forward to reading your articles.

  18. Sarah S

    I also feel the stirrings of spring which create even more excitement (not that I needed anymore of that!) for this sport that I love. Great post, Geoff. Looking forward to your bi-weekly posts!

  19. Br

    I love the feeling of anticipation coming out of the winter "lull." I love being able to hit the trails without the need for additional equipment. Good luck in your training for Hardrock.

  20. Robin

    I am very fortunate to live in Zion canyon and watching the canyon come back to life after the winter months. Each season is amazing here but Spring brings with it all the anticipation of great things to happen. This Spring I am finally tackling my first 50 miler which is on some of these great trails around here. Venturing out on more technical trails and experiencing the beauty that surrounds us is what is most intriguing about trail running right now. Looking forward to more articles…sorry can't think of a clever name. Thank you for all that you do!

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