Having The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running is like owning a skyscraper with the floors packed full of all things trail as professionals such as authors, Nancy Hobbs and Adam W. Chase, remain ready at your beck and call on every page. No elevators in this tower of knowledge . . . only traipsing up, and rocketing down rocky, rutty, root infested trail-steps. Outside. In the elements. Where it goes with you.
Stanley Kubrick used a title in his very forward thinking movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, when leaping from conscious thought to an unconscious meaning. In the last can of the film, the most dramatic and meaningful, he named it “Infinity and Beyond.” If Kubrick had titled this book, he might have used “The Infinity Guide to Trails . . . and Beyond.” This means the book contains plenty of basics useful for all including those who are moving into dirt-drudgery and rock running for the first time—what will turn into an eternity.
The “Beyond” payoff for readers with trail experience is discovering incremental knowledge leading to exciting breakthroughs, much like when a runner finds their own method to scamper around switchbacks effectively.
Or when every fiber of the body screams “Stop, please stop now, it’ll feel so good if you’ll just give up” on reaching the 80-mile aid station. Yet . . . yet, that little Tinker Bell of thought counters with, “Hey, don’t; it’s just a bad patch,” then go on to secure a finish.
Who knows what piece of knowledge or additional thought over a lifetime instilled that edge. Coach Bowerman once said of Pre’s motivation to run, “You can’t coach desire.” But a runner can learn to maximize what innate desire they possess. This book enhances a reader’s awareness of topics and fibers of info helping fuel the torch of drive.
Their definition of trails goes deep as they classify the meaning beyond my simple “If it ain’t paved, it’s trail to me.” The guide’s world is tougher, including obstacles such as creek crossings (everywhere, mostly), moraines (Hello, Wisconsin), and ice (“Welcome to the party, pal,” mumbles a sarcastic Bruce Willis in Die Hard).
The point is, even the most advanced trailite can find information in this second edition that will prove helpful or increase one’s depth of understanding of the sport. An example is the discussion of “Fell Running,” which I assumed was the ordinary course of events after tripping, smacking the ground, and leading to the condition of “Face Running.” Actually “Fell Running” on a mountainous terrain is where the amount of gradient obtained is a significant part of the challenge, an off-road test where climbing is paramount. Like everything else in trail running, it sounds like fun until the leg’s quad-choir scream a painful version of “Love Hurts,” wiping that silly, fun-loving grin off a grimaced face. Yet, there are hundreds of these events globally, now morphing into mountain running championships.
You think you know all? Well, when was the last time you met Shiggy? No, pencil legs, its not 60s model Twiggy’s daughter. The answer revealed demonstrates the global nature of off-road running, but also the universal appeal of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running. No matter the country where one lives or participates, readers can use this book to increase enjoyment of the sport.
Importantly, their writing is a hoot to read often giving one pause when coming across the authors’ insights like these discussing trail shoes: “Trail runners driven primarily by the looks of their shoes should get a life, be banished from the trails, and hit the roads. Oops, did we say that?”
You have never read THAT before.
Think of the frank courage it takes for contributors like these two who write for popular trail publications and running magazines to vent, “You want to avoid the overbuilt, tanklike trail shoes that many manufacturers make with the thought that it is better to doze through trails rather than run with the trail. Too many manufacturers view trail runners as essentially hikers who just go a little faster . . . .”
The book also covers snowshoeing, identifying the sport as “. . . a way to keep up trail running fitness.” Absolutely. What they cleverly kept under wraps . . . trail running is great cross training for snowshoeing on snow-covered dirt trails, too.
A special treat, the “Psychological Analysis of Trail Runners,” is included, written by Beth Darnall, PhD in psychiatry. At least she doesn’t think we’re crazy.
Among the insights, Darnall reveals seeking unpredictability is a significant trait of trail runners, which is a kind way for calling us risk takers. Isaac Newton who undoubtedly would be a snowshoer / trail runner if he were discovering new laws in present day noted, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” It takes a certain bravery to park at a new trailhead while in the dark of night, strap on one’s favorite light, and launch out carrying the trek’s necessities to the great-forested unknown.
That is the unpredictability trailites love.
A runner can employ Isaac Newton’s ideas on learning when he spoke, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Having the Ultimate Guide in one’s trail bag, carrying it to an event or trek on dirt, one metaphorically has Hobbs and Chase providing their mountainous support of knowledge and research for reference at anytime.
It is their blunt analysis and blunt writing separating this book from an ordinary read. Combining frankness with the depth of understanding they provide on all topics trail makes this the ultimate volume promised by the title.
Can one claim the title of dirt aficionado without owning a personal, folded, bent and marked copy of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running? And, yes, it’s available in Kindle.
Really, this second edition might need to change its name; perhaps it should be “Perfection . . . .”
phillip gary smith wrote the first book ever written on the Superior Trail Runs: Ultra Superior. Visit his author’s page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/PHILLIP-GARY-SMITH/e/B003FJCFM4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1