No Place Like Home

I’ve been fortunate enough, partly by choice, and partly by luck, to live in some pretty incredible trail running locations in my life. The five places I have lived as an adult – Salt Lake City, Utah; Homer, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Nederland, Colorado; and Boulder, Colorado – all have some pretty incredible trails. At this point it’s hard for me to imagine living anywhere without access to mountain trails.

I’ve spent some time recently thinking about the things I’ve liked about running in these various places, and why I’ve enjoyed the running in some of them more than others. I don’t necessarily care to get into a conversation about what is the best trail running town, but rather I’m intrigued by what my difference in opinion about these places tells me about what (for me) makes a location a more desirable location to live in terms of the running. The points I will bring up here might seem really obvious, and kind of pointless to discuss in such detail, but often in life I think we decide that we like one thing better than something else, but never think about why that is, and what we might be able to learn from this. Certainly there are a lot more important things in life than examining why a certain location may or may not be a satisfying place to live as a runner, but most of us here are involved in running to such an extent that the next time we’re thinking of moving (whether across town or across the country) we will likely take into account what it would be like to be a runner in our new location. Not to mention, if you’re anything like me, any time you vacation, you base at least part of your decision on where to go on what the running is like there.

The first thing to consider is the proximity of the trails to the locations in town in which you would choose to live/visit. This might seem to be a really obvious and somewhat silly point, but often when I mention this to people they seem a bit confused by my suggestion that this is something you might actually have to think about a little bit. My point here is that not all towns with nearby trails are created equal in terms of how nearby the trails are. Take Salt Lake City for example. The area surrounding Salt Lake City has some of the most incredible running trails anywhere in North America. Anyone who disputes this probably hasn’t done much running in the area. There are some pretty good trails accessible right from the edge of town, into the foothills, but most of the more desirable/extensive trails begin up one of the nearby canyons – 15 to 45 minutes away, depending on where you live in town. Compare this to Boulder or Juneau and you gain a better sense of proximity. In Boulder no matter where you live you will be 5 minutes or less (in most cases on foot) to the nearest trailhead leading into the extensive network of trails in the Flatirons. Juneau takes this even one step further. Due to the unique geography of the region, everyone who chooses to live there is by default also choosing to live within a few blocks of the closest mountain/trail access.

The next thing that plays a huge role for me is what exactly are these trails/mountains that you are accessing, and what type of running do they offer? Again this sounds like a really obvious point, but if you don’t take this into consideration you aren’t really painting the entire picture. For my personal liking (and this certainly varies from person to person), I like to get out in steep, wild, rugged, remote terrain as much as possible. When I apply this preference to the towns I compared above suddenly some things get flipped around. The trails which are so nicely located right next to Boulder are tame, crowded, controlled, and feel more like a city park than mountain wilderness. In comparison, the Wasatch mountain trails around Salt Lake feel much more like true mountain wilderness. There are dozens of trails in the Wasatch that are more appealing to me than any trails in the Flatirons. If only you didn’t need to drive so far from town to get to them. By comparison, in Juneau, as soon as you leave town in any direction, you are instantly into steep, rugged, remote, and wild terrain.

The last thing which I think makes up the bulk of the appeal of a running location is the local running community, and how well it meshes with one’s own personal relationship with running. This point, like the previous point, varies greatly from person to person. This is a huge part of why one runner thinks town A is the perfect place to live as a runner and another prefers town B. If you’re really into the scientific, high performance-based approach to running then you are going to find yourself very at home in the Boulder running community. If conversely you prefer to do your own thing in a place where most people don’t even know that trail running exists, then Homer or Nederland would be a great fit for you. If you’d ideally want something a little more in between these two extremes then Salt Lake or Juneau would be a great choice.

Again, I’m not that interested in raising the conversation about what everyone’s favorite running town is (Runner’s World, Outside, Trail Runner, and other publications seem to do this kind of thing every other month.), but, instead, I simply think it’s worth noting that we can all learn some things about our running style and preferences by closely examining our opinions/thoughts about the various places we have done the bulk of our running. If you read this article closely (or if you know me at all), you can likely figure out my favorite “running town.” (Hint and shameless self-marketing plug: I host a running camp in this town which is currently taking applications for next summer.) What’s been fun to me, though, as I’ve now run extensively in so many different places, has been the examination of why some places stand out to me as so much more satisfying than others. I’ve come to realize that it’s really important to me to live somewhere where I can run out my front door and be in wild and remote mountains within minutes, and to share this experience with a community of other runners who value these wilderness experiences, but aren’t very caught up in a scientific approach to running. Through looking at this I think I’ve come to a much better understanding of why I run and where I want my running to go in the future.

In conclusion then, what have you all learned from the various places you’ve run? Feel free to share the locations you’re referring to, but more importantly what have your opinions of these locations taught you about yourself and your running?

There are 71 comments

  1. Sniffer

    That in Iowa it is harder than hell to train for any elevation. But a quick drive up to Minnesota (trees, hills, and trails) and all is better, for now.

    1. Will H

      Sniffer, you're right that you can't prepare well for high altitude races here (but you can't do that anywhere in the midwest). If you want great trails you just haven't lived in the right parts of Iowa then. From just about anywhere in the town of Decorah you're only a few minutes from miles and miles of hilly, rugged singletrack. And I can run out my door in Dubuque and do a 10 miler that is 70% singletrack and climbs 1500 vertical feet with views out over the Mississippi. It's not the Rockies or even the North Shore of Lake Superior but you can find some pretty good trails in Iowa if you look in the right places.

  2. Tom Stockton

    Los Alamos, NM is similar to Juneau in terms of proximity to trails. A trail is within blocks of most homes and offices and you can at least feel remote pretty quickly. What I've found interesting is how this has changed over the last 12 years as 2 major wildfires have burned many of the watersheds with trails. Both the fires themselves and the subsequent erosion have destroyed many trails. Accessed is limited to many trails in the years just after the fires due to safety concerns. Though we've lost large Ponderosa Pine forest the Aspens quickly repopulate and provide a beautiful but very different experience. The County, Forest Service and the community have been galvanized to rebuild and improve trails such that we'll end up with more and better maintained trails over time (til the next fire). These fires do make it a bit difficult in putting on the Jemez Mountain Trails Runs as much of the course has been burned over the years requiring modified courses (kudos to the Forest Service for helping us through this).

    So is seems to me that many runners' relationship with a location's trail running may evolve over time as the trails evolve, a runner ages and maybe as a runner's health changes (good or bad)

    Thanks Geoff

    1. Patrick Garcia

      I've thought the same thing since my experience at JMTR. The community down there is doing great things, and mostly under the radar. Great town.

      Perhaps, Geoff, you might consider the "wife/husband/partner" factor… My personal preference might mirror yours a bit more closely, however, my wife isn't willing to move deep into the mountains. In this case, areas like Boulder (or Lakewood in my case) offer a hybrid type experience.

      1. Mike B.

        One of the Reasons I love Golden, CO is the hybrid experience that you mentioned. I really like the small town feel of Golden and I also have access to Denver and the mountains. I have come to love the mountains since I started running 3.5 years ago and definitely need access to them.

    2. KenZ

      Interestingly… I grew up in Los Alamos, just didn't run back then. The skiing was great though!

      However, this brings up another factor: weather. As in: how does the climate affect year-round running? Some people just don't like subbing in snowshoeing for running, or putting metal spikes on their shoes, or having their lungs freeze solid. Thus, for example, while I LOVED the myriad of horse trails in Waitsfield, Vermont, I'll take the winter running in the SF Bay Area, even if by headlamp, over it any day (any day of the winter, that is…).

  3. Jamie

    You bring up a point about Boulder that I've noticed as well. I take a very free-form approach to my running and training: I run what I feel like, where I feel like on a given day. When other Boulderites ask what my workout is for the day and I say "I don't know," I end up with a blank stare a lot.

    Maybe I should consider Juneau . . . or I could move back to Minnesota.

    Thanks Geoff!

  4. Ryan

    Proximity to the trail is a big one for me. In my small town in north GA, we don't have the most beautiful or hilly trails, but within one mile of running, I can be on 1 of 2 trail systems.

    I've got a busy job, a long commute, a family, and all sorts of other obligations. My ability to "trail run" every night is crucial. Waiting for the weekends to drive to big mountains isn't enough for me. I need to feel that dirt underfoot everynight.

    In that respect, I would much prefer the tame (but close) trails of Boulder to the wonderous (but far) trails of SLC. I need trailrunning like I need oxygen. And couldn't survive as a "weekend only" type of guy.

  5. Danni

    I get incredibly nostalgic about the gravel roads in Kansas that I ran when I was growing up. Though I live in one of the most beautiful mountain areas in the world (in my not so humble opinion), in some ways nothing beats a humid, midwestern evening run on endless gravel and loud cicadas. Part of me will always be in Kansas. (Yes like Dorothy).

  6. J.Xander

    Anchorage, AK! Love our trails, miles and miles of single track (Thanks Single Track Advocates) Miles of old dog mushing trails, and XC-Ski Trails. Major paved trail that runs the length of the city (26 mile loop now). It's great, but……

    wear the bear spray in an easy to reach place, get the dog, don't forget the bear bells, run with a group, shout "hey Bear" as you make your way through the urban wilderness. Yeah, bears are a problem but I guess that is one of the things that makes this place unique. Anchorage loves it's trails and it shows in the community. But, maybe we could start a bear hazing program? Lock up your trash Anchorage.

  7. Chris

    Being born and raised in a rural mountain town in Northern California, I used to consider Los Angeles and the rest of SoCal to be one big, useless urban sprawl. After 'temporarily' moving down here for school and work I was blown away by all of the trails.

    For two years my wife and I lived in Thousand Oaks, which is basically in the Santa Monica Mountain Range. Hundreds of miles of trails, all within a mile of our apartment. Good thing about living here: tons of trails, wildlife, ocean views, a lot of trail races from 5k-50M.

    My wife and I now live in Pasadena, at the base of the San Gabriels. While I miss the one mile run or drive to the trail head that I had in T.O. – as I have to drive 5 miles to get to good trails now, the trails here are much more 'my kind of trails.' Meaning, they are steeper, more rugged, and are in big open mountains – with elevations reaching 10,000'. The most you can climb in the Santa Monica Mtns. is about 2,900', it's easy to climb 6,000' in the San Gabe's. I kind of miss the lushness of the Santa Monica Mountains, but I don't miss all of the poison oak over there. However, since the Station Fire of 2009, the San Gabriels near Pasadena have become littered with pockets of itch inducing Purple Poodle Dog Bush.

    While I often miss the tranquil beauty of my home town mountains, the community of runners that living in a metropolitan area affords is an awesome thing. Not only do I have access to many mountain ranges down here in SoCal, but there are large running communities in each, and finding a buddy to run with any given day or group, or race in any given area is very easy.

    Sorry to get tangential, but what aspects of running towns lend them to being home to the more talented runners?

    Boulder is obviously a hot spot for fast cats. Why is SoCal, with all of our runners, being able to run year round, with great trails everywhere, lacking in the talent department? I don't mean any disrespect to the fast runners down here, it's just that you'd expect more top notch runners based on the sheer number of people down here alone.

    1. Ric M

      having lived in the Glendale-Pasadena area, and in the Santa Monica Mtns area too (Thousand Oaks and now Santa Monica), I love your accurate characterization of their differences and of the LA running scene, Chris. As an LA newbie in 2008 (rather, my first time living here as a runner), i was so stoked to discover that i was within 25 miles of over 150 trails, most of them mountainous to some degree. Of course, if you're big on trees … good luck finding a thick canopy of 'em within a few hundred miles of LA LOL.

    2. adam

      The San Gabriels & San Jacintos are on par with Alaska or any other remote out there range when it comes to trails, vert and ruggedness to me.

      I've lived all over AK- Juneau, Denali, Sitka and most of the American west. Not sayin' that So Cal's better, but I will say that when you know where to run down there it can be as good. Helps that my job takes me into some of the most wild and remote spots…

      That little plug for Cali aside…I have to give a shout out to my new home in Vancouver! mount harvey with 4,100' in 3.5 miles, not bad, BCMC 2,300' in 2 miles, but those are just normal for the area.

      When I think of mind numbingly steep trails, Alaska and Canada are what come to mind (in N.A.). Sea to sky running is where it's at.

      Take all this with a grain of salt. I really think moving at any speed on any trail is what it's all about.

      1. Mick

        Adam, have you tried the Halvor Lunden trail by Buntzen Lake ( also known as the Dilly Dally by locals. Start at the equestrian parking lot.

        Roughly tha same pitch and distance as the Grind but natural trail instead of steps.

    3. Hone

      Chris- If you run within 20 yards of poison oak you get a rash! What is wrong with you dude? I run right through the crap and am fine. I live in Thousand Oaks and spend too much time on the moutain trails that are located 1 mile from my house. The Santa Monica Mountains have really grown on me. I have found plenty of trails that have legit climbing and it is not hard to 30k of gain a week out here. It is a great place to be a trail runner (if you like ratters and heat). I miss our runs together and lately I have been doing the 10 at Los Robles every day for my morning run. I remember a couple of times you tried to drop me at the turn around climb. ha!

      Socal is cool but there is no place like home. Everytime I head back to Eagle River to visit my folks I get depressed that I do not live there anymore. In my humble opinion is the greatest place on earth to run. I enjoy season changes and have always loved running in the snow and the silence of trail in the dead of winter. It was 103 egrees at my office in Woodland Hills today and it is mid October! When I start my runs at 5am in the pitch dark I still do not bother wearing a shirt because it is still too hot!

  8. Elena KGB

    Metro NYC and North NJ area where I live may seem like the worst when it comes to access to trails, cuz all most ppl can think of is usually busy Central Park and street running across the congested city or densely populated NJ towns.. But it is not exactly the case and NYC was even mentioned in "trail runner" magazine as one of the best cities in US when it comes to trail running and access to trails. How so? For those with no car (mostly city crowd) one can take a train to Tarrytown. NY and have instant access to over 50-miles of Rockefeller Park trails. Those offer wide and runnable carriage trails with rolling terrain – great for long runs and for marathon or ultra training. You can really run fast there without being afraid to fall or trip on a rock but escape the road and pavement pounding. Many city ppl and cross-country teams run there every weekend year round. Right across GWB you have access to Palisades Park trails on NJ side of the Hudson river (Long Path that goes for miles and miles and a bunch of others) – great rolling terrain and much more technical than Rockefeller if you are looking for more challenge. These are my personal favorite trails and only 10-min drive from where I live in North NJ – no need to run roads on weekends ever! Taking a subway to Bronx or a quick car ride through the bridge, you will have access to Van Cortland Park trails. Every major holiday a bunch of runners gather there for informal "Holiday Marathons" where you can run a 6.2 mile loop as many times as you wish in great company of friends. And if you have a car (30-40min ride form the city) or willing to take a longer train ride, you have access to the ultimate huge network or trails in the Harriman State Park and Bear Mt Park. Those offer the most technical and wild terrain that one can ever imagine in this part of the country (with some bear sightings here and there too!) and is great training for any ultra! Geoff probably knows how much "fun" these trails are just from running and winning the Bear Mt 50-miler that is held here every May. ;-) So, these were my 2 cents. Happy trails to everyone!!!

    1. wade

      check out the highlands trail that goes across northern New Jersey. also there's the mahlon dickerson reservation and the defunct sno bowl ski area in oak ridge, nj. these are very quiet places with appealing terrain close to nyc. and lots of black bears!

  9. Los

    Live in Ossining — 4 miles from the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. There isn't a better place to run in the US — especially this time of year.

    1. Elena KGB

      Wish I lived closer to this place – it is unbeatable when it comes to weekday running or any running. Unfortunately I log most of my mileage on roads during the week and only come out to different trails (incl Rockies) on weekends. But I am thankful even for that opportunity, cuz it could always be worse (just like anything in this life).. :)

      1. Los

        Other places to run in that area (more technical but smaller than Rockefeller): Teatown, Kitchawan, Graham Hills, Brinton Brook & Hardscrabble. Bunch more further upstate, too. Westchester County has a bettef parks system than you'd think. Tons of open space.

  10. Anonymous

    Proximity to town and ruggedness are my criteria. And Salt Lake meets them both and then some. Even the foothill trails feel like big mountain running.

  11. Jason in Virgina

    Geoff,

    I really enjoyed the article and I am glad to know I am not the only one that thinks about these things.

    2 things I am surprised aren't included in your evaluation of good running places to live are the year around weather and the ability to access higher elevation. For me, the year around weather is a huge factor and as I consider relocating, it is one of the things I look into first.

    I currently live in central virgina and can easily access great trails. However, one of the draw backs is hot, humid summers which really steal the joy from trail running, especially if the route involves really difficult climbs.

  12. Rob T

    This is a photo from my first hour vacationing in Boulder, CO. http://i.imgur.com/Cs4pO.jpg – I then ran the trails all around Chautauqua/Boulder all week and found the combination of weather, beauty, scenery, running community, and trails were perfectly complimented by a pretty awesome small city/town. There aren't many places that you can "go out for a night on the town", find work in my industry, easily, and then run a mile and have access to hundreds of miles of trais. After thinking about this, it was a no brainer. I uprooted myself from 30yrs on the east coast and moved to CO.

  13. Dvroes

    Geoff, a great place for you to call home for a while would be somewhere around Stillwater (not Okla.). You could run, hike, ski, snowshoe, fish, boat and snowmobile in the Adirondacks right from your door and take an occasional long run to Camden (not NJ) or Cleveland (not Ohio) and see lots of old friends and family that all miss you.

    Love,

    Dad

    1. Mom Roes

      I sure agree with what Dad said – you could even see a bear or all other kinds of wildlife. Your Mom, Dad, Brothers and Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Nieces, Nephews and lots of friends would love to have you move to Stillwater, NY. Corle' and Elle would love it there. It is so peaceful and beautiful.

  14. Van Horn

    The Wasatch Front is a playground for trail runners and ridge scramblers. (As well for skiers, snowboarders and climbers.) Once you live here is is difficult to leave.

  15. Mark Forehand

    In the last 12 months I've done most of my running Kyiv, Ukraine where we don't have trails; but I've also run, in that same time frame in Torun and Bydgoszcz Poland, Valencia Spain, Baku Azerbaijan, Xi'an and Hangzhou China, Muscat Oman, Conemarra Ireland, London England, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Lviv Ukraine, a fantastic two kilometer run in the Beijing International Airport.

    Trails are what you create, to me. But there is nothing like Tallahassee, FL or Trailahasee.

  16. James Brennan

    Great article. Someone once said…Life is all about 3 things: "Who you are with, What you are doing, and Where you are doing it". Usually most people can find 1 or 2 at a given point in life. I think Geoff's article implies the right thesis- that the solution for 1 person might not be the right fit for another person, and the "solution" may just embrace underlying core values.

    Also, as an aside, running should be just 1 priority in most people's lives and if people (myself included) can be as passionate about the Who, What, Where and other aspects of their lives as they are about running- now thats powerful!

  17. Ellie

    Great article Geoff! Whilst I loved living in Banff, AB and on the surface it looks like stunning mountain running I found it tough – winter was very long and with few people on the trails for many months of the year I was stuck to a small selection of lower elevation and flatter trails and even the road running I felt was somewhat limited as I had to run after dark with a headlamp (no street lights) and had to consider safety of going off on roads where I might see no one. In the summer the trails were exceptional but summer was all too short and there was still a lack of running buddies so then I was concerned about encountering wildlife solo out in the backcountry (snow is good for at least showing animal tracks!) Now back in North Vancouver, BC I am a 15min run to awesome trails that remain snow free lower down year round but get enough snow up higher to remain fun and get that winter experience. Also, I see a lot more people out on the trails in North Van so feel more comfortable running solo as if I should twist an ankle I might get found!

    Thanks also for your inspiration from Alaska whilst I ran in Banff, if ever I got onto a trail and ended up knee deep ploughing through crazy amounts of snow I'd call it a 'Geoff run' :)

  18. Bryon Powell

    Two years ago, I got to choose where to live. Anywhere in the world was in play. Realistically, climatic, broad geographic, travel, and language factors along with general personal desires meant that I'd be living in America's Mountain West. In the end, I chose Park City, Utah for a few trail running-related reasons.

    First, I can run in the heat, but after three decades in the Mid-Atlantic, I'd skew my weather choices to never being to hot.

    Second, I love to run. Some folks can't get enough of steep, super technical trail. That's not me. The vast majority of Park City's trails were designed with mountain biking in mind. That means literally hundreds of miles of cruisy (with stretches of steep or rocky) singletrack. In addition, some folks need/want to run in remote wildernesses to thrive. Park City doesn't have that, but I find I can still have an intimate connection with the natural world. (I could go run to a moose every day in April and November.) That's enough to recharge my batteries.

    Finally and most important, when Meghan and I were dialing in where to live in PC, immediate trail access was of paramount importance to me. Unless I'm meeting folks, I hate to drive even a few minutes to run. I want to put shoes on, head out the door, and be running. As it is I have trailheads to three distinct (though connected) trail systems within a mile of my house. The nearest is 2 or 3 minutes away. This makes me very, very happy.

  19. Eli

    I live in Eastern Iowa near the missippi and one may think (I did for a long time) that no mountains makes running less fun but I think I just don't feel like racing anymore and I am simply living in the moment a sucking up the fall colors and just life in general. Doing this makes running feel right no matter where I am. For anyone who reads this you may want to just race for fun when you feel like it- it makes life feel more free.

    -thank you for posting Geoff

    Eli

    1. Chris

      Shhh….it rains here 360 days a year, Oh No! Well, darn, I guess the cat is already out of the bag so…

      Portland is the best place in the world! Great urban running, miles and miles of singletrack within city limits, the Gorge 30 minutes away, Mt. Adams wildnerness, Mt. St. Helens, the coastal range, the coast….ah.

  20. Dejan

    Baltimore, Maryland, not really the highlands, but great options of running on soft trails only minutes away from downtown and mostly in the woods

  21. Spike

    Alright, I've got a question pertaining to salt lake city running. I've gleaned most of my information off of where I want to move next year of maps and the like. Salt lake is definitely within the realm of options. Here's the question- It's pretty common knowledge that if you live in Boulder you can most likely run up Green Mountain from your doorstep. Is there places in salt lake remotely similar?

    1. Bryon Powell

      Anything along the north or east sides of SLC. There's a bench trail (the Bonneville Shoreline Trail), but that frequently connects with routes (official or not) up to the peaks. Personally, I prefer the running out of the Avenues neighborhood, but that's just me.

  22. Café Jon

    I had the pleasure of calling Asheville, North Carolina my home and playground for many years. The surrounding area is riddled with trail systems. For many, trailheads are within a mile of their doorstep, and no more than a 10 minute drive for folks in the heart of the city. Some trails are steep and rugged, and can guide you into remote (east coast standards, here) areas, while others wind you along rivers through the city's parks. Within 10 minutes you can access the 70+ miles of trails in Bent Creek, 30 minutes gives you the 400+ in Pisgah, and an hour gives you the 900+ miles of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Whoa.

    But now, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief from the cars and traffic and breathing in the fresh, though scarce, air here in Leadville, Colorado. From my doorstep I can now access over 50 miles of trails, impressive peaks, wildlife, and immense solitude on the east side of town. On the other side of the valley, after a ten minute drive I'm free to roam and form loops on the Colorado Trail, scoot up 14ers, or get some turnover in around the lakes. This may come as a shock to those of you familiar with the Leadville 100, but I'm talking singletrack.

    Through these experiences I've found that nothing that moves my spirit and body to run quite like a sense of community. The camaraderie and accountability shared is invaluable to creating a positive running experience day in and day out. Sitting in a car is a drag, yeah, but well worth it to reach a destination, be it a peak, river, familiar trail, or whatever, that moves your soul. And I genuinely believe that regardless of one's geographical situation there is at least one person as well as at least one place where you can create an experience comparable to anything you can dream.

    So, I tip my hat to you, trailrunners, who are out there making the most of your home (for now), connecting with people that are willing to lead and follow, and recognizing the power and bliss you find in running, regardless of the means and the end.

  23. Café Jon

    Also, heading to Seattle in a couple of weeks and would love to see the trails there and in the surrounding areas- any tips?!

  24. William

    I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, and probably hiked or played outside running up and down mountains everyday for my whole childhood. Later, for various reasons, I found myself living in various places in China, mainly Shanghai, where there are very few places to run, no hills to speak of, and terrible pollution.

    I moved to Hong Kong five years ago, and was happy to find that Hong Kong has (arguably) some of the best trails of any major world city. However, it's perhaps a bit like Geoff mentioned with reference to SLC, in Hong Kong, one is never more than 15-30 minutes away from good trails, but if you want to make trail running a daily activity (and not just a weekend hobby) it's important to live in an area that is close to the trails. For that reason, I chose Mui Wo, which is only a 30 minute ferry ride from Central (the financial district), but also right at the start of the trail head leading to either A) Sunset Peak (ie…2,600ft gain in 4 miles) B) Yilian Mt. C) Chi Ma Wan Peninsula routes D) Tiger's Head E) Nam Shan section of Lantau Trail, and others.

    In short, all of these runs involve fairly steep gains, and rocky, technical running. The main downside is that the weather is miserably hot and humid for about six months per year!

  25. Sniffer

    I hear ya Will. I live in north central and it is about 2 hr drive to the cities, about the same to Dubuque. I have been MTBing up your way and you do have some nice singletrack. I usually stick to game trails that track the Iowa river. So there is a little ele. I just end up doing loops…alot of loops.

  26. Jim

    There's nothing like the trail running mecca of Buffalo, NY! I can walk right out my door, step in my car, drive 30 min for a 45min loop or an hour where maybe I can get a good 1-2hr loop if I am lucky. Oh, and the elevation…the only problem I have breathing is when I choke on clif bloks while running.

    1. Merrie

      Sounds a little like Boston, except our trails are renowned for being packed with mud/root/rock trails and affording little to no views.

  27. Mike

    I grew up on the East Coast. Avalon, NJ, a small beach town north of Cape May. Then I took a cushy job in Philadelphia. I was living to work. Then I said screw it, packed my bags with friends and we drove west to Frisco, Colorado. I make little money, but I work to live. Each day since moving here is a spiritual and physical journey.

    Frisco is my new home. I am out here with great friends and an amazing community. I can go out my door and land on beautiful, moose trampled trails, with no signs of anyone. I can have the wilderness to myself, and the alpine becomes a playground.

    I am in love with the ability to scramble 4,000 feet in my backyard and end up on a sweet peak with the Rocky Mountains of Colorado all around me. I love seeing my house as a small piece of the puzzle in a small town. Post run, I am home in front of my fireplace with my best friends, enjoying a locally brewed beer.

    If home is a state of mind, a state of bliss and comfort. Then no doubt Frisco is my home.

  28. adam

    We did make it out to Buntzen once this summer. Great area! Looking forward to going out to Golden ears soon.

    No need for the grind,we have 4 other trails to choose from to get up grouse! All of SW B.C. is amazing for trail options!!! We are lucky!

  29. Andrew Reiff

    Leadville, baby!

    I've been living in Leadville for six years now. I moved there (from the Boston area) for my wife's job in the fall of '06– before I had ever run more than three miles or even knew what an ultramarathon was. I would've never expected us to stay in Leadville for so long, but in those six years we've gotten married, bought our first house, and now have two children scampering about at 10,000ft. It's a great little mountain community filled with friendly folks, miles and miles of trails and, of course, plenty of races to run. Finding work can be tricky, and require a bit of creativity, but it's well worth it if you can. (I'm a software engineer and I telecommute to work.)

    Here are some pics from a 20-miler I ran a few weeks ago:

    http://pb-runner.blogspot.com/2012/10/tour-du-iow

    Everything you see is right out my front door… not too shabby.

  30. Anonymous

    I grew up about 18 miles from Dubuque, but now live in Indiana. Where is this

    "10 miler that is 70% singletrack and climbs 1500 vertical feet with views out over the Mississippi" that you speak of?

    I've run a couple times on the Heritage Trail, but that is more or less flatter than a pancake.

    Like you guys, it is hard to train for mountain type races. However, I have run Pikes Peak, Leadville, and White River 50M primarily off hard nosed road/trail training mixed together. It wasn't always pretty, but it got the job done :).

  31. jimmy

    Humiduty in VA does suck, but Virginia does has some awesome trails. Even around DC you can get some really scenic trails along the Potomac. Charlottesville has some of the best trails on the east coast!

  32. geoff

    mt. olympus would certainly be a great "everyday" run (actually powerhike), but to be doing it from your doorstep you'd have to be living in the 'burbs several miles east of town. not the worst thing one could do, but i've always felt that if i'm going to live in a big city i want to actually feel like i live in the city and not in the mess of freeways, strip malls, and cookie cutter houses on the periphery. For this reason I would agree with Bryon, living in the avenues and running the shoreline trail area would be your best bet… and then when you want to drive 20 or 30 minutes you have numerous really awesome options. The shoreline trail might get fairly boring if you were running it 5 days a week, but there a lot of places to explore off of that trail.

  33. Chris

    "Tried to drop you on the turn around climb?" I just remember waiting 5-10min for you at the top of it. Jk.

    If I get healthy it'll be fun running against each other at Zane Grey! I've been putting in some super solid 5 miles on flat road lately, you beter watch out.

    I've got a great route for getting in shape for Zane Grey in Pasadena. You ought to come over when I'm back in running shape.

    Happy Training,

    Chris

  34. salt lake rattler

    Draper just south of salt lake city was a good area in terms of access. Cherry canyon trailhead and corner canyon (lots of mountain bikers) I frequented simply because I was close and it was easier to access than most other areas of salt lake.

  35. clydesdale craig

    Boise is a new emerging market for ultra trail running. 150 or so miles of trails in the foothills and up by bogus basin ski area right out of downtown.. I will admit the groomed singletrack and lack of EXTREME elevation would probably turn off alot of elite… but for people like me the hills are plenty steep, the endless trail options are awesome…. and there are more and more ultra options popping up in the area. (there was a 50k in the hills today.

  36. Guy C.

    Despite living near the center of Mexico City, there are decent mountains that go up to 13,000 feet about a 25 minute drive away. Unfortunately, hit it at the wrong time and that 25 minute drive each way quickly becomes an hour. Makes it tough to get vertical mid-week. If anyone is every traveling through the city and needs to run, take a look at my blog which highlights some of the key places to run in the city.

  37. Hans P

    Hi Geoff, here's a greet from "Nederland". Well the country The Netherlands in dutch means Nederland. ;-)

    I can only be jealous, living on a pancake here. Yes, there is some forest and unpaved areas where I tend to do most of my running, but for the better experience I have to go to Germany/Sauerland, where a lot of trailrunning is done. Offcourse this doesnot include my weekly runs.

    I guess we all have to make the best of the environment we live in and to find the nicest roads and trails to run on. Not living between mountains doesn't mean running can't be great, cause I also enjoy it alot. Making a trip every now and then to better terrain however makes you want to move to such areas. …

    Cheers from Holland.

  38. Jason B

    I live in the Aves; no place like home. Many options similar to Boulder within minutes of my doorstep (even looks like the old town of Boulder). Our version of Green Mountain is Black Mountain. 4500ft to 8900ft in 10-12 out and back miles depending on location. Take the classic Wahsatch Steeplecase route (18 miles) for additional views. Several other options for vertical and miles all without driving.
    http://www.summitpost.org/little-black-mountain/2

    From City Creek you can even hook up to the Wasatch 100 course near Big Mountain.

  39. Matt

    Will – I miss the trails of Decorah. Best place I've lived in the Midwest, I think – and from what I've seen and run in Dubuque, plus your comments, I imagine it's a pretty great place to run and play as well. That said, if you ever want to come visit central Washington… I'd love to show you a few of my favorite trails. If all goes well, I'll even get to test a few of them on New Guy and Lucky this summer.

  40. Maurice

    I think this is among the most signifісant info foг mе.

    Anԁ i'm glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

    My web-site Maurice

  41. axxomovies

    Hi! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after checking through some of the post I realized it's new to me.

    Anyways, I'm definitely glad I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back often!

    my web site … axxomovies

Post Your Thoughts