A New Summer Trail Series: One Way To Keep Kickin’ It Old School

AJWs TaproomReaders of the Taproom know that from time to time, the old-school curmudgeon in me comes out and I complain about the growth of the sport, changes in the culture, and the general snarkiness that has crept into the trail running community over the past few years. While I know many find this annoying, self-righteous, and arrogant, I do feel that certain aspects of the direction the sport has taken have been damaging to the old-school community I cherish.

Therefore, in that context, many of you have urged me to put my money where my mouth is and do something. And so I have! Working with a great group of kindred spirits here in Charlottesville, Virginia, we recently announced the first annual Charlottesville Summer Trail Series to take place this summer.

David Smith and Christian Dahlhausen, founders of the Charlottesville Area Trail Runners (CATs), and John Andersen, owner of Crozet Running, have joined forces with me to create a new, fun trail series.

Designed along the lines of summer road-racing series around the country, this trail series consists of four races between 5k and five miles at four different trailheads around town. Two of the races are on Saturday mornings and two are on Tuesday evenings. And, they are each intentionally and unabashedly old school.

Series scoring will be in the classic cross-country format. Finishers will be handed a popsicle stick with their finishing place on it to record their place. The race venues have been chosen specifically to engender a laid-back vibe and intimate community feel. And, in keeping with the best in trail running culture, the series will culminate with a cookout awards ceremony and beer bash. Best of all, in the event of a tie after the fourth race, those runners tied for the series lead will square off in a one-mile ‘runoff’ immediately following the race to determine the series winner.

I know that whining and complaining about change is not all that productive and I will continue to resist the temptation to do so. And, as I hope our new series attests, it is our desire to introduce the old-school feeling that we love so much to many entry-level trail runners who, frankly, have little to no interest in running ultras but have great interest in soaking in the uniquely warm environment of the trail running community. Perhaps this little series here in our corner of Virginia will inspire other running communities to do the same.

Bottoms up!

 AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week is one of the most popular craft beers in Virginia. Devils Backbone Brewery in Nellysford has won countless awards for their easy-drinking Vienna Lager. Using a classic Austrian recipe and putting their own American craft-beer spin on it has allowed Devils Backbone to create the perfect summer-party beer. I plan to have kegs it on hand for our final race series party in August!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Is your trail running community actively creating experiences that harken back to American trail running’s history?
  • How does your trail community create an environment that welcomes new trail runners?
  • Do you participate in a summer race series, either on the trail or road?

There is one comment

  1. @duenord

    Very cool idea! I think that these laid-back events have a lot of potential to draw more folks into the trail community. I'll speak from experience, as when I moved to Duluth I found it has one of the most impressive old-school trail series. I met a few guys at the races that were in to the ultra thing, and it spiraled from there. In the spring there are seven races around town on Wednesday or Sunday, and in the fall there are nine races. These date back to 1982, when Jarrow Wahman and a few other folks started putting these races together in different spots around town. There are results from the entire history on Northlandrunner.com, look under series and the NMTC fall series especially. The first of the spring races kicked off last week, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 runners participating, and they are as competitive as any of the local road races, if not more. Best part is that the races are 100% free (donations accepted)! I feel pretty lucky to have found this community and to have been drawn in to the ultra world at large through this series. What you're doing is awesome, AJW, and I'm sure it will be well received, as you create those opportunities for other folks to get into the community. Cheers!

  2. Johnny

    W/hen I think of old school trail running communities, I think of 50k fat asses. Get some donated soda, Gatorade, pringles, and cookies. And go for an "organized" 50k run with shorter options.

  3. @chrimess

    Really exciting stuff, we have a similar series at the Whitewater Center in CHarlotte, NC- a monthly, 3,5 or 6,5 miler on a Thursday night, 10bucks to get in and free concerts after the run, also accompanied by free fun runs.

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