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I fancy myself a trail runner.
One of the best things about it is that I can then say things like:
“I fancy myself a trail runner.”
Oh yeah. That felt good.
The actual trail running? That just kind of hurts.
This is what I was thinking last month as I chugged my way up a section
of A.T. just outside of Dahlonega, Ga.
I hadn’t actually set out to run it that day.
But as I drove my boxy Honda up to Cooper Gap I decided I wasn’t going to
merely trudge up the mountain like some kind of pack mule.
Oh no. I was going to gallop.
Gallop like a stallion.
Better yet, gallop like one of those fancy dressage horses in the London Olympics.
Except, um, less prancier.
And so I did.
But the galloping (and occasional prancing) only lasted so long.
Then my pace became more of a trot.
Then it was downgraded to a trudge.
Especially on the uphills.
That’s the problem with trail running. Trails are steep.
And steep hurts.
But let’s not talk about that, right now. Let’s talk about the fact that I consider myself a trail runner.
Like those people you see in Runner’s World magazine which I once subscribed to.
They look like angel people, don’t they? Hovering a few feet off the ground as they travel across what looks to be a Hawaiian volcano or some clearing in a Brazilian rain forest.
The thing is, you can’t hear those angel people breathing. You can hear me. From very far away.
This isn’t all bad though.
Especially when it comes to bear safety.
I take comfort in knowing that my startling loud panting is probably noisy enough to frighten all large wildlife from the area.
It’s as though my lungs become my own personal bear horn.
Yes, there’s more than one way to travel the A.T. And sometimes hiking is the best way to do it.
But if you ever get the chance, try it at a steady trot for a while.
Or at least an unsteady one.
It hurts. But it’s a good hurt.
And it’s all part of being a trail runner.
Which, I should mention, I fancy myself as being one.

by Matt Aiken

Matt Aiken is the editor/founder/lone employee of TravelingSasquatch.com. He’s also a reporter in the small trail-friendly town of Dahlonega and wrote a book once.

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