Returning to trail roots

As this blog is going live I will be preparing to run a race that was my first big introduction to the trail running community in 2015, the Zumbro 17 miler. I had been running since 2010, but in late 2014 my wife convinced me to give trails a try. We did a small short race in the fall of 2014, but in 2015 I committed fully to doing some races. I hooked up with a local trail running group, and signed up for Zumbro.

One of the things I learned right away from this running group was a lesson in community. As I ran with them, weekend after weekend through the winter, they told me about how the trail running community functions, and how important the community aspect of this was. It cemented in my mind that I wanted to be a part of this, and that I needed to put commit to being a good community member.

With this in mind I signed up to volunteer on the Friday before the 17 mile race, while the 100 milers were out on their loops. That first time volunteering gave me the most perfect introduction to what this community is all about. I met some amazing people in Robyn, Rob, Julie, Julio and many others. Everyone pitched in to make sure the 100 milers had what they needed, but did it with a laid back attitude and with a dose of fun. These folks were some of the best trail running ambassadors I’ve met, and they’re the example I’m striving to live up to.

This year I’m once again spending Friday volunteering, this time getting to captain the 5th aid station at start/finish. I’ve got a great crew working with me, making my job nice and easy, and hopefully we’ll be able to take care of all the runners needs and make them successful in their 100 mile attempts. One of the best things about Zumbro is that as a looped course you get to see everyone many times, and every time they hit AS5 it’s like stopping by home.

Zumbro is a special place because of this. The entire weekend feels like a big family gathering, with a bunch of people camped out in the woods and having a great time. The start/finish campground becomes a big party on Saturday afternoon with people cheering their runners home, and then hanging out for hours swapping war stories. The atmosphere exemplifies what it means to be a part of the trail running community. People gathered together in the woods, helping each other, cheering each other, and discovering the joy of life lived fully.