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. Patrick C.

    Better weather has been slow in coming to Oregon, but it's starting to feel like it's on it's way. I'm definitely feeling the excitement of more miles and more races coming up!

  2. Craig

    Nice weather and getting back on the trails. I'm new to the sport and I'm also looking forward to entering my first race this year.

  3. Matus

    This is good news. I always enjoy hearing from you, Geoff!

    By the way, is the giveaway US-only limited? I'd like to see you ship it to Europe.

  4. Josh Gum

    Your description of ITI left me feeling disoriented and in complete awe. Thank you for sharing and many congratulations! Looking forward to reading what you've got to share in your column.

  5. Jeremy Bradford

    This spring, I'm most excited to compete in the inaugural Quad Rock 50 race that Nick Clark is co-directing. Looks like a solid group of runners and a challenging course. And, of course, I look forward to following this column. The inspiration Geoff provides has turned out to be quite practical for me. In my last couple 100s, when times got hard, I just kept picturing Geoff pulling a sled through sub-zero temperatures in AK and I was able to summon the strength I needed. Thanks for continuing to share your experience and insights with all of us.

  6. natalie

    I always feel revived/renewed when spring comes. I love heading out the the trails and hearing the sounds and smelling the fresh dirt. I look forward to runs in drizzle and fog! This year I'm looking forward to increasing my distance and heading out for longer runs.

    How about Geoff's Jive, Taking it to the Trails, Running According to Roes, A Roes in the Wild (HA…maybe a bit girly!), Prose from Roes, Trail Chat.

  7. Josh

    I have abused my Mountain Masochists over many miles and they are always fun to run in.

    Thanks for the article Geoff!

  8. Brandon Mulnix

    I am most looking forward to distance. Over the winter, my long runs all consisted of running races. I look forward to LSD with friends on local trails at all hours of the day or night. Running for me is lonely without friends.

  9. Maja

    spring trail running: I'm anticipating splashing through puddles and soggy grass on the first barefoot run of the year! you can melt now, snow!

  10. Brian

    I've wondered about the merger of road and trail enthusiasts. Specifically, about a runner from my hometown who qualified for the Olympic trials in NYC (before Bejing), but never seems to break through to the very top – what if he, as a 34 year old, switched to trails? Examples of great "older" trail runners exist in abundance, churning through the wilderness could be a great way to unwind from the anxieties of the road format.

    Always, love to read you thoughts Geoff – and the blog! Would love some new gear too…

  11. Adam

    I love hearing about your running — you run for the right reasons and make me want to get out and push my limits. I'm excited to read your articles here on iRunFar.com.

  12. Ron Heerkens Jr

    Geoff great article! Great to see even more of your writing out there. I am extremely excited for spring. I get the winter blues pretty bad. Going for my first Ultra this year and the weather has made the training less than ideal.

    Super stoked to see the talent infusion into trail running and the success it is becoming, however not liking how fast the races are closing out.

  13. Betsy Fischer

    I'm excited to see that Geoff is expanding his talents to include published writing! Can't wait to see him share more of his thoughts on trail running. I love his quiet, respectful attitude to the sport and to those who share it with him. It's obvious he has given a great deal of thought to the subject and is unafraid to put forth new ideas. Looking forward to the next column.

  14. B Devo

    Geoff great to see you on iRunFar and enjoyed your iditarod race report. Excited about the trail run season as well. Just kicked off the year with my first trail ultra here in MI -plenty of slogging through snow and slush.

  15. Martin

    Geoff,

    Always enjoy your blog and congrats on the new assignment. Look forward to more in the future.

    I moved from NY to Florida recently and have noticed how I havent experienced my usual spring running fever since the weather doesnt vary all that much. Not complaining mind you, just an observation.

    Keep up the good work and good luck this season.

  16. Mark

    Great post, Geoff. It has made me begin to re-think my own "off season". I don't normally take one, as the weather in our home area (SW Missouri) doesn't really impede our training. For the second year in a row I'm really fit but also injured heading into peak racing season.

    A move to Colorado or Alaska may be in order!! Thanks again for your insights, as I really enjoy your blog.

  17. Laura Waldo

    After following Geoff's blog for a year now I think he is a great speaker for most of us who run ultramarathons. I love his appreciation for the planet and his love for running. His comments and stories are wonderfully applicable to all runners..those of us with full-time jobs, family and trying to get in the mileage for training. When I am less than motivated on getting out on a solo run, after work, on the cold, dark and snowy trails I will bring up his "fumbling towards endurance" and read a bit…he is not a rah-rah-everything-is-great guy, and that is what I appreciate! His comment that he runs alone over 95% of the time was all it took to, again, get my unmotivated self out there as I train alone also. I think irunfar did a great job of bring Geoff on board for writing as he has the running talent and the ability to express his thoughts, experiences wonderfully. Now I only wish I could swing getting up to one of Geoff's Alaskan camps!

  18. Nikola P.

    Good luck with your column.

    It's nice to see that trail running is progressing and developing as a sport. hopefully it won't get too much attention by big sponsors. More prize money is always a good thing, but, at least for me, amateur side of this sport is something that should be preserved. Likes of you and many other good runners today are a model of trail runners that I would hate to see disappearing under the pressure of professional runners. Don't get me wrong, I think that you deserve more than you can win in todays races, but it would be a shame to see people doing this sport soley, or to a larger extent, on a highest of level driven only by possible monetary gains (as it is a case in marathon).

    Once again, good luck with your forthcoming races and enjoy every moment of your training.

    Cheers

  19. Thad Sweet

    I love how I Run Far has added quite the depth on insight and voices! Thank you for branching out and providing TONS of invaluable info. Geoff, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's always interesting to find out details from the lives of others, and some of their thoughts and opinions.

  20. Forrest

    Thanks for the great insights. It is always wonderful to experience the changing of seasons and be active and involved with the trails throughout those changes. Thanks for the words.

  21. storhund

    looks like hardrock is going to get the competitive prestige it deserves.

    question – which direction is harder?

    answer – gotta be honest, they're both easy. hah!

  22. Christine

    Looking forward to future articles! I enjoy your style of writing on your blog so just another place to read your thoughts. Good luck at Hardrock!

  23. Lee

    Great stuff, Geoff and iRunFar. Have followed Geoff's blog and this site for a long time, and now the worlds collide.

    Should I be the lucky chosen one, can you ship this swag to me internationally? :) I live halfway between the madness of Shanghai and the amazing mountains of Hangzhou, and could certainly put all this stuff to good use!

    Run well at Hardrock.

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