Competition in Trail Running
Top of the morning to you!
I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and are ready for your last full week of work before the holidays.
This weekend, I said goodbye to the snow and headed to sunny Arizona to hike some trails, visit some friends and trek the Canyon with my dad.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about competition and trail running.
There have been speculations that the sport has become too competitive as sponsors have been introduced and as the sport gains traction, events are pulling out bigger names and stronger athletes than ever before.
The trail community has been notoriously friendly, humble and down to earth. It seems almost counter to the culture of the trail to be hyper competitive, as people often visualize a lean, tanned athletes eating berries along the path as they run to the top of the mountain.
The truth is though, that in trail running, like every sport, you are only going to experience from the race what you are going for. If you are just starting out and are running your first ultra, merely to cross that finish line with a smile (or at least a good photo that hides your grimace), you will have a fantastic race, despite the fact that there are elites in the pack that are finishing a good 3 hours ahead of you.
On the other hand, as a racer myself, when I go to a trail race, I want to work hard to for my place. Sure there is a more relaxed culture in trail running, because really, how angry can you be surrounded by forest? But in reality, I want to be chasing the tail of the person in front of me and sprinting to that finish line.
Competition pushes me to find my limits and make sure they are maxed out.
In my mind, if you are not able to have competition in a sport, it cannot be truly defined as a sport. Despite the happy-go-lucky persona that surrounds the trail community, the drive to win and a stiff competitor are not ruining the sport, but validating the sport itself.
What do you think? Is competition in trail sports important to you or do you find that it is ruining the sport?