Author Ellie Greenwood
To me, it’s vital that we all think about trail etiquette – how to respect and maintain the beautiful natural environments that we choose to run through, and how to respect our fellow trail users. It’s important to recognize that we share the trails with others.
There are many aspects of the ultrarunning community that I love, and one of the most important is the fact that at 99% of races 99% of the folks out there helping the runners are volunteers. It’s easy to take this for granted and just assume that races are volunteer run. But have you considered how a race might differ in atmosphere if the folks handing you water or issuing your bib number were paid employees?
Over the years, I’ve seen numerous runners who, in my opinion, have put undue focus on a race. They become totally fixated on doing well at a particular event that they almost feel that they should not enjoy the training, as if in some way suffering through hard training is part and parcel with doing well on race day. This is totally wrong.
I distinctly remember the finisher shirt I got at my very first marathon in Victoria, British Columbia. I remember it because it was a bit of a dilemma –
I’d just run a marathon, a whole 26.2 miles, so I sure as anything wanted to go around proclaiming my accomplishment by wearing an item of clothing that shouted this fact to everyone who I so much as passed in the street.
If you ask ultrarunners why they got into the sport in the first place, you will hear a range of answers—for health, for a love for the outdoors, for a personal challenge, for an escape from the stresses of work. But I can’t imagine that many ultrarunners would say that they got into running because they wanted to be fast and competitive.
You know those times when you innocently say something and are met by a really odd look, and then you realize that you’re not talking to an ultrarunner? Well, that was the case when I was talking to a local newspaper journalist recently and referred to running the Vancouver marathon as “a good, middle distance effort.” Well what else do we ultrarunners call a mere 26.2-mile jaunt other than “middle distance”?
Oh, if only running and racing to one’s potential was just about running, wouldn’t that be wonderful? It would make life so much simpler and I truly believe that many more “weekendwarriors” would be up on the podium at competitive ultras. But the more I run, the more I realize that it’s the “extra stuff” that all goes towards truly fulfilling one’s potential as a runner, which is hard, as all I really want to do is run, and all I often feel I have time for is to run.