A Season of Hope

As I sit here typing on a Sunday night in Silverton, Colorado, I note that spring comes a bit later here and although I’ve survived four months of deep winter and a mud season on the roads, there are but a few short stretches of snow-free singletrack at the moment. The temperatures are now warm enough to head out in running shorts most days, but as a trail ultrarunner, the best running’s not here yet. I could sit here impatiently biding my time after a long, difficult stretch… or I could think ahead to the not-too-distant future when the trails melt and dry and, eventually, the high country opens up into a glorious, never-ending playground. Yeah, that second approach is way better, huh?

For so many of us, the past year and change has been like the Silverton winter: challenging on numerous fronts. Thanks to COVID-19, some people dealt with devastating loss, while nearly everyone faced uncertainty and an upending of their routines. For many of us trail and ultrarunners, that upending of routine involved forgoing races, adventure travel, and group runs, at least for some time.

Now, at least in the U.S., more of us are considering pinning on a bib and returning to a starting line for the first time in a year or more. There’s plenty of inward-focused excitement, motivation, joy, and accomplishment that comes with that alone. Then, there’s the reuniting of our tribe more fully than has been done in quite some time, whether that’s a gathering of too-long-separated close friends or simply gathering among others who, like you, find gratification in covering distance on foot. Others will travel a bit further to search out adventure and all the benefits that provides. Surely, the world’s not back to how it was in 2019 and it may never be that way again, but there’s certainly a feeling of hope as parts of our world open back up in ways that will become our “new normal.”

Personally, I’m not ready to get back racing or widespread travel quite yet, but I very much hope to toe a starting line as well as explore new-to-me trails further afield in the second half of the year, even if 2020 taught me I could largely do without either. If anything, the absence of these things clarified where and when and how I want to run. That’s empowering. To some degree, that will likely mean racing even less than the modest amount I did in recent years, but making them opportunities for adventure when I do. The same goes for my relatively meager personal travel, which I hope to develop into richer, deeper opportunities for geographic, cultural, and personal exploration. Just typing this, I’m a bit giddy at a new future that I can’t quite make out.

On the professional side, it’s a relief and a pleasure to have had This Week in Running return to iRunFar’s pages on Monday. While I’m little involved in its weekly compilation, TWIR’s always felt like an opportunity to make our community a little closer and our world a little smaller. I’m so glad it’s back. Likewise, I can look a few months ahead on the calendar and see iRunFar reporting live from some of the world’s biggest ultramarathons. Yes, there’s a chance that one or more that I’m contemplating won’t happen or that I won’t be permitted to attend for one reason or another, but soon, one way or another, I know that I and iRunFar will be sharing these events with you. We hope you’re looking forward to them as much as we are.

Call for Comments

What are you hopeful for in the coming months and years?

San Juan Mountains Spring 2021