Trail Running is in overdrive as more and more runners switch from roads to trails. While the total number of trail runners is more difficult to follow, what is clearer are the statistics for trail races in the USA. The growth rate is pretty staggering, with recent data from ATRA (American Trail Running Association) showing that the number of trail race participants grew from just over 120,000 in 2004, to over 430,00 in 2012, a 358% increase in 9 years! The number of new trail races continues to grow to meet demand, with 268 new races added in 2013, an all time high.
Along with the growth in Trail Running has come other events to support the Sport. This October sees the second annual Trail Running Conference taking place at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The conference takes place October 9-11, and is for both Trail Race Directors and Trail Runners. The event is billed as three days dedicated to the sport of Trail Running. The number of trail running shoes, apparel, hydration devices, and other support systems, has also kept pace with the growth in numbers of Trail Runners.
Running camps have long been a way for road runners to gather and enjoy expert coaching, training advice, nutrition, and other supportive functions that help to improve running experience and performance. Now there are a number of trail running camps that have been created to provide the same level of coaching and instruction geared specifically toward trail runners. Typically these camps are located near to trail networks to give access to camp participants to trails where instruction and feedback can be given.
One example of an adult trail running camp offering is from Active at Altitude. The company is based in Estes Park, Colorado, and has been providing trail running camps since 2007. Now in their 8th year, Active at Altitude has developed a reputation for providing high quality coaching, education, and inspiration in one of the most beautiful places in the World to run! (Rocky mountain National Park was recently noted by National Geographic to be one of the Top 20 most beautiful places to visit in the World).
Terry Chiplin, Camp Director at Active at Altitude, gives his top 5 reasons to come to a Trail Running Camp:
- Location, location, location – trail running camps are always in a great location, close to nature, and the trails that form the focus of the camps. Our camps here in Estes Park are no exception. We are on the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most beautiful areas to visit in the World. The Park has a well developed, and maintained, trail system, with over 355 miles of trails to choose from. The trails range from relatively easy, to challenging, with elevations from 7,500 feet to over 14,000 feet. The Park is also well known for the diversity of wildlife, with large animals from moose and elk often visible, to smaller animals like beaver, pika, as well as birds like bluebirds, hawks & eagles. Changing seasons in the area bring a whole different experience to trail running, varying from snow on the ground, to running past fast flowing mountain streams
- A guided experience – our camps are always led by coaches that know the area and the trails, so that participants can really enjoy and engage in the experience and not have to worry about where they are going. Sometimes a group can spread out; we always make sure that at specific trail junctions that we regroup to ensure everyone is on track. We also use a technique we brought with us from England, “sheep dogging.” This is where faster runners go on ahead, and then loop back to pick up slower runners, so the group spreads and then reforms, and so on. We are also fortunate that we are blessed to work with some of the top trail runners in the USA on our camps. Our Spring camp in may features Nancy Hobbs, the CE of ATRA, and dynamic trail and mountain runner herself, a frequent podium placer at World Mountain Running Championships. Our Fall camp features Adam Chase, President of ATRA, and the Trail Editor for Running Times.
- Education – learning about trail running is much more than just getting out and running. At our camps we include workshops on trail form and techniques, as well as safety factors, wildlife, and what to use for both footwear and apparel. We also cover nutrition and hydration on the run, and work with top level companies like VFuel and Ultimate Direction. We also use videos featuring top trail runners like Anton Krupicka, Killian Jornet, and others, to inspire and educate.
- Inspiration – we aim to inspire runners to explore and achieve their potential on the broadest possible spectrum of achievement. Running trails is just, well, it inspires the soul! We have had runners come to a camp and been inspired to test themselves and successfully qualify for their home country’s mountain running team, and go on to World Mountain Running Championships. We have seen runners arrive unsure of their potential, and leave with a clearer vision of what they are capable of, and become regular age group winners in trail runs.
- Camaraderie – their is something very special about staying at a mountain lodge with like minded people, for many of whom this is a new place, and a whole new experience. It is exciting, and a natural part of being human, to explore, to be thrilled by new challenges, and to eagerly anticipate what waits for us around the next corner. Very often runners arrive as strangers, and part as friends, with a shared experience from the camp to bring them even closer together.
The Spring Trail Running Camp with Active at Altitude takes place May 8-11, 2014, in Estes Park, Colorado. The camp includes trail legend Nancy Hobbs, and includes accommodation, all meals, group runs, interactive workshops, a signed copy of the Ultimate Guide to Trail Running (Hobbs & Chase), and a years membership to ATRA, that includes a subscription to both TrailRunner magazine, and Running Times. Rate for the 3 day camp starts at $520 per person sharing a bunk room spot.
See more details on the camp, including registration, at https://activeataltitude.com/camps-2/trail-running-camps-2014/