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. Helen

    [Perhaps it's just because I'm a newbie, so forgive me if this is daft, but] what I find exciting is (what seems to be) a growing number of trail running camps … for adults! The opportunity to run with, and more importantly, learn from Geoff in beautiful southeast Alaska or exploring the the Tetons with Krissy Moehl and Luke Nelson is fricking EPIC.

  2. edward

    Geoff, you've single handedly sparked my desire to try a sled pulling winter race. Bravo, and keep up the writing! You're very inspirational! I can't wait to put this gear to use, but unfortunately it'll miss my first hundred of the season this weekend.

  3. Anonymous

    oops. i meant the movie Unbreakable…great movie. Endurance (about Haile Gebrselassie) is also a great movie…but Geoff isn't in the latter one…i will stop writing now…

  4. dylan hammons

    I would love to run like geoff. Just once. I was a athlete who hated to run. Then I got obese! Then running came to me. First 5k's then marathons now ultras. If my name is drawn next year for WS. I will run like geoff. With passion,respect,and love for our sport. Just not as fast

  5. Ken Ballard

    Great article Geoff! I have been following your blog since you won Western States. After reading your race report on the Iditarod race, I bought a pair of Drymax socks. They are awesome! Thanks for the tip.

  6. Andre Greene

    Living in Texas, smack dab in the hill country- I am so excited about running the trails lined with blue bonnets and gillardia wild flowers. The sunsets can truly be amazing!

  7. Cameron

    Trail running is definitely gaining in popularity and it's great to see the competition and camaraderie at the same time. I for one will aim to bring new races to our sport and hopefully attract the kind of high-quality runners and people who I enjoy seeing at races today. Thanks for the reminders about what we're all a part of…

  8. YubbyOne

    If days come longer, runs go further, that's spring time !

    Feel free to run lighter, w/n wearing such heavy pants, gloves … feel free to run simply !

    It's timme to focus on serious training, to target special event like WS100, Hardrock, or for europeans like me, UTMB !

    The time has come to set up big matches between east and west friends, on the most excited races around the world. We want share this all together, 'cause before a sport, trail running is passion-way-of-life.

    That's my little point … Spring time ? Just smash it !

  9. Brian

    As Spring enters, I am looking forward to increasing my mileage and getting ready for a 100-miler in November. I understand the need for time off to mentally and physically reboot in order to get ready for the next round of training!

  10. Ben LaVigueur

    Our long winters in Alaska can leave a true fire burning inside for spring and summer to arrive. I am rightr there with you Geoff. Long live trail running and iRunfar!! Keep up the good work Bryon!

  11. Eric Walker

    I am most anticipating my first hundo this spring at Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin.

    I am most excited about the diversity and number of people who are embracing the beauty and challenges of trail running. While I sometimes prefer being out there solo, there is something enriching about spending time on the trails with people who can share their experience with you and learn from yours.

    Do you have a suggestion for a column name?

    Roes in Prose

    Create a great day!

  12. Stephanie

    Super big fan, Geoff!!! Best of luck to you in your future races. I've only recently dipped my toes into he pool of ultra running but am looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself.

  13. Megan

    This spring I'm looking forward to tackling the steep trails to train for TRT50. Just ran my first 50 at American River last Saturday and I'm hooked!! As for a column name, maybe Roes Goes?? Hahaha nevermind that's lame. Can't wait for the next column!

  14. Leon

    If I win I promise to not believe that any/all of this stuff has any shot at making me actually run like Roes. I do, however, reserve the right to be really, really excited to put any/all of this stuff to the test.

    Leon

    Manheim, PA

  15. Tyler Lopez

    It is a great time to be a trail runner! I just completed my first 50 miler at AR50 this year. Instead of agonizing over the stomach issues I endured the last 10 miles, I'm anxious to get back at it so I can learn what I need to do differently. Thank you for the articles. I look forward to reading about your training.

  16. Nick whited

    Good article. A neat name would be frozen fire. You live in Alaska, yet you compete and win striking at the last moment, keeping your fire under ice until ou need it.

  17. Kevin Hoffman

    I am looking forward to the sights, sounds, and smells of spring. My run today took me past a field that was being tilled, and the smell of the freshly turned dirt was great!

  18. Ron

    Like Mark Berry mentioned, it's great to have a new group of excited people (and new friends) in the Omaha, NE area to run trails with! My wife & I are really looking forward to doing more with this group.

    Good luck this year Geoff!

  19. Alan McMurtrey

    Excellent article as usual. This will be the best year ever on the trails. And Geof is an inspiration…on and off the trails.

  20. charles L

    Wow, sweet giveaway, be great to finally win something this year (will be much harder to do on trails, moving up to 50 milers currently). Can't wait for more news out of Alaska, keep up the great work, Geoff!

  21. Ryan

    Nice. Glad you'll be contributing to the content at irunfar. I really enjoyed following your 350 mile adventure in Alaska. If you can survive that, I can certainly survive SD100 and Wasatch100. Especially once I win the package of goods. :).

    Cheers.

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