Is it different to run in the US ?
As you may have heard, we will be running the Run Rabbit Run 50 mile ultra in Colorado USA in September. I trained for more than one month alone, because Eric was sick. So I had a lot of time to think and sing and go slow…all of the things that you do when you are running for hours all alone.
And what was I thinking about,? First, how nice it was to just go slow! But I was also thinking about how it might be to run in the US. I may have a US passport, but I have never run more than a marathon in my mother country!
What I have heard and what I have seen about trail running in the US is that it is F.A.S.T. Because I am the queen of ‘go slow’ running, I started to worry. Now, I don’t believe that US trailers are faster than other trailers, but I wanted to learn more about what trail running is like in the US.
Here is what I learned:
- Mountain running vs. Trail running. In Europe and places like La Reunion, the event may be called an ultra-“trail”, but we are really talking about mountain running. Mountain running is exactly what it says, runners trying to move as quickly as possible up and down mountains. And often the path is just the most direct route from the bottom to the top and back down. In the US, people talk about trail running. So, the idea is that you will run on trails. The trails may go up and down mountains, but the idea is not that you will climb and descend mountains but that you will run on trails. The point is that the trail is not the road (le bitume). So, in the US, the trails may be less technical and there may be less up and down. The important thing is that you are off the road.
- “Fast”. So, US runners are not necessarily faster that other runners, but the trails are more ‘runnable’ than in other places, so everyone runs faster than in the more technical mountain races. It is like how some traileurs reunionnais don’t appreciate running in Madagascar, because it is ‘trop roulant!’
- So, I also read that US races are limited by more rules. You must stay on the trails. In the US, public land is not accessible to everyone. If you are in a national park, you must stay on the trails. US races also limit participation, so that the land is protected from too much foot traffic. I could not find a trail race in the US that has thousands of participants, like the UTMB or the Grand Raid. Most participation is limited to a few hundred people, in an effort to preserve the natural environment.
- Running ‘au naturel’.Maybe this is why US runners like to run without a lot of equipment, or even a lot of clothes ( mostly men).Trail running is said to come out of hiking and mountain climbing, which are sports associated with solitude and respect for nature (Of course trail runners everywhere have a strong ecological sense!). Maybe you have seen photos of US trail runners, running with no sac, no socks, no shirt. Just shorts and shoes. This is because in the US, it is not cool to run in nature and not be ‘natural’! If you have a lot of equipment and hi-tech shirts and shorts, or batons, that is not in harmony with nature! But, US runners will have every type of technology in their pocket: GoPro, GPS, telephone with all apps to track them… but never batons!
- Common ground. But every article that I read agreed that in the US and in other countries, all trailers share a respect for nature and solidarity with all of the lovely volunteers who make races possible. The trail spirit, ‘esprit trail’, is what brings everyone together to have fun, suffer and support each other in beautiful places!
But, of course, I don’t know if any of this is true. I have not even experienced running in the US yet. So, you will all have to check in after the race (15 September) for the race report to see if all of this is true or not!!
If you want to know more about the Run Rabbit Run race, click on the link: