The Arkansas Trail Run Series isn’t new, I think this is my third year of participation, but it needs to grow. And to grow the word needs to spread so help us out here and tell your friends to get their running shoes dirty.
Saturday morning was cold, but not brutal. Soon, racers that had been in long pants and coats would shed to shorts and shirt sleeves. It would have been warmer had there been more of us to huddle together there at the Burns Park BMX track for the Riverside Trail Run. Also, I would have felt better about my decision to “run easy” if there were more of us. With a group of less than 20 runners, I think I recognized all but perhaps one or two. This crew has become a family, the ones who show up at every trail race or most of them. We get to share things like news of the latest adventures, who bought a new bike, and sometimes there are really significant events like the addition of a tiny future endurance athlete.
The pack shot off like cannons, competing for the day’s top spots. I kept to my plan and ended up toward the back, not an unusual place for me and a comfortable position. About a mile in to the 4.2 mile course, I passed Dan “the man” Belanger who was wearing new shoes. Runners notice things like new shoes, especially when they’re green and have large reflective heel stripes.
I spent the next 2 miles alone, except for the treat of a volunteer playing guitar and singing an original tune that sounded something like “go that way…stay to the left.. have a good run”; that’s something you don’t get at every water station. As I finished the red trail loop I spied a cyclist in a Spokes jersey. I thought to myself, chances are good I know this person. As I got closer I realized it was junior racer Jarod Yarbrough who was out with his dad, David, and a couple of other young men. It’s always nice during a ride or a run, to see the other members of your tribe out there. David was out with the kids trying to encourage and foster a love of mountain biking in the next generation, growing the sport and ensuring its continued popularity. Thanks David. After a quick “HEY! How you doin’?” I was off to finish the rest of the run on the green trail back to the BMX parking lot.
At the finish line the discussion turned to how to get more folks out running these shorter trail events. If we’re out running the race and we see our friends out for training runs or riding the trails, it’s not an issue of time or location. A couple of hours after the race, I was out on the Burns Park trails again, this time hiking with my dog. I saw several people I know, runners and mountain bikers and to the last one, they all said “I would have run if I’d known.” I know this website that has this calendar where you can look at a weekend and see what’s up. So here’s your invitation to the village powow: On February 8th there will be a trail run at Cadron Settlement near Conway.
For our trail running tribe, this race is a chance to play “beat the clock” since it will be a timed event to see how many laps runners can complete in the allotted time limit. For our mountain biking tribe, this is the perfect opportunity to get in some good pre-race-season cross-training. Bring your bike. If you haven’t ridden these trails lately you’re in for a treat. The Central Arkansas Off Road group has been working hard and it’s paying off. You’ll want to ride a lap or two after the run. Trust me.
Over 100 photos from the race are posted on our Facebook Page. Enjoy.