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. Brandon Baker

    Geoff- SO stoked you'll be writing here and very excited to hear about your adventures in the coming months. I will never forget WS '10 (thank you unbreakable and CLifbar) and your amazing turn around, what an incredible race, what an amazingly humble racer you are! Perhaps Kilian was right, in the end, mountain men are all the same, just simple men who love to play and compete in the mountains- If only I can count myself among you! Godspeed and have a blast out there this year; everyday for that matter!!

  2. Yannick

    Great article Geoff. I really enjoyed your blog entries already and I'm super psyched to hear that you'll be writing regularly on of my favorite running website. Looking forward to your next article and hopefully getting lucky with that contest!

  3. David

    I too have been snowshoeing and rando skiing all winter and am interested in how this translates into running form this spring.

  4. Tim

    Yes indeed, there has been a kind of convergence occurring as accomplished marathoners take to longer distance trails but I would like to see some Kenyan talent one day join in the fun as well !!

  5. Mom Roes

    Geoff -great writing as usual. Bryon made a smart move by adding you to the team. Can't wait to read more. I have a few suggestions for a title – Sweet as a Roes – Roes Bud( dy) – Roes's Blooming – or as someone else suggested – Roes Knows. Can't wait until next weekend – we get to meet Elle and spend time with you and Corle'. We are all so excited!!!!!! Easter is surely going to be eggstra special this year.

  6. Andy

    Love the posts from Mom Roes. And if Mom says it's great writing, you know that's an unbiased view! One more corny title suggestion: "The Roes Less Traveled"

  7. VICTOR SNOVER

    I have long been a follower of Geoff's blog, and I was super stoked to see that Bryon has him on the irunfar writing team now! I don't have any good titles for the column though, but I will certainly be reading it every time it gets posted!

  8. Liz

    Good reminder that so many top road runners are already doing ultras. But there's still a changing dynamic – say, as "road" runners devote more and more training time to trail events, due to increased prize money, prestige, or whatever.

  9. Tomislav

    Less clothes and beautifull new spring vista's ahead.

    I seriously dubt that this equipment will enable me to run like Roes but hey I can look like Roes (bigger version) :-)

  10. James BG

    Nice writing Geoff. There's a calmness and humble quality to your views, despite the fact that you're a world-beater in this sport. Thanks for the inspiration. No way I could "run like Geoff" but new pair of Montrails would be cool for the spring.

  11. beah

    one day I hope to define "time off" as training for and finishing a 350 run through the freezing wilderness. Maybe if I had some new running gear…

  12. Douglas Wickert

    Really looking forward to reading Geoff Roes' regular musinging on IRF. Great addition to a great line-up.

    I think more than anything else, Geoff's humility and simplicity are inspiring. Trail running, mountain running, ultrarunning… whatever we call it, there is nothing more primal…. The only true spiritual moments I've had have been while running alone in the mountains. There is something about the immensity of the mountain that puts man in his proper place. I've never been able to adequately explain this, but Geoff's blogs often come close to expessing the magic I feel in the mountains. Looking forward to this.

    Roes Knows Mountains!

  13. Chris

    My first time on iRunFar.

    Freshly starting to pickup running at age 51, I'm excited about the climbing temperatures of spring to get out there. I'm not sure how far I'll get this season, but I love nature and have now finally discovered the love for running. I'm having some nice trails in my 'backyard' and am eager to saver the trails.

    Will be back for inspiration and advice.

    Happy Running.

  14. Ben

    While I do see benefit of elite road runners joining the sport, I am excited to see people from the other end of the spectrum coming into the fold, as well. Many of us who will never be a fast road runner, but who love trail running for the simple reason that we are in creation and getting to see a lot of it at a faster pace, are jumping onto the trails more than ever. Thanks to the popularization of trail running due to many factors (Born to Run, prize money, trail running personalities, Unbreakable, etc.), more and more of us are aware of the sport, and are enjoying the privacy or camrodery (depending on your disposition) that trail running can give.

  15. Graeme

    Mom Roes needs her own bi-weekly column. Can see where Geoff gets his writing skills. Can call it 'Mom Roes Knows More'. 'Eggstra special' – priceless!

  16. Glenn Steckler

    Geoff,

    You say it all here: "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."

    Being at one with the mountains, mind drifting, then living in the moment, worries melted away, on auto-pilot, gliding over the trail, at peace, rain, snow, thirst, hunger, all natural elements and feelings coming together, euphoria, blissful fatigue, then hestitation at the end of the workout, knowing that it is time to go back to all the things that the trail isn't. That is what I look forward to, and am just beginning to experience, this Spring.

    Glenn in Telluride, CO

  17. Daniel Gamble

    Geoff, thank for the "finishers" Patagonia hat at the end of the Chuckanut! Pleasant surprise to see you in person after an awesome race!

  18. Chris Williamson

    Sweet article, a 1st class edition to what is already a top shelf site.

    Article ideas:

    1) Deep Thoughts

    2) Over the hills & through the woods

    3) The Pace

    More to come

  19. Drew Gunn

    Spring fever? I feel like I have a terminal case. Thanks for the inspiration Geoff. I'm also looking forward to the training that I'll "need" to do for Hardrock. The very best kind of running.

Post Your Thoughts