Too much of a good thing?

February 26, 2013 in Article by Eric Eagan

We are fortunate to know that Rochester has amazing trail systems. One of our stated goals is to get people out and enjoying these trails – Yet we walk a knifes edge – The solitude and peacefulness of the trails is one of the reasons we love them so much.

– As trail running becomes more and more popular though we are starting to run into some issues that must be addressed.

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1. Races may be starting to get to big on some trails- in turn frustrating runners

Some local races have gotten so popular that we are starting to hear runners grumbling about “not being able to run” and “not liking to be so over crowded on the trails”. It’s a catch-22. We want you all out running trails, but we also do not want anyone to get frustrated from crowding. It may be time for some local races to think about how many runners they accept or how the courses are set up. Some trails are not meant for 300 runners – Others can handle that with no issues at all. We have to be aware of that

2. Prices are starting to rise for races

One thing that attracts so many runners to the trails is the low key – anti corporate  – low cost feel. As the rule of supply and demand dictates – prices are starting to rise. This goes against the culture of trail running. We implore race directors to keep our sport as affordable as possible. We understand the business aspect of our sport – We just want to keep perspective.

3. Too many runners -especially in a race scenario can strain our local trail systems.

The North Face cancelled a race earlier this year for runners safety during storms – but also to protect the trail systems. As we run in the mud – in snow – in dry conditions etc – We can damage trails if we are not careful.

Runners passing each other (off trail or edge of trail) kill local fauna and widen the trail causing more erosion than is natural. Too many runners doing this and the trail loses it’s identity (and functionality).

4. Corporate Dollars are at work – Where numbers of people go – Those who want their money will follow. While big corporations getting involved in our sport is awesome for gear – shoes – nutrition – and progress in general, It can start to change the culture of the sport we love. We have to be careful to maintain what has worked for so many of us.

5. Inexperienced trail runners flooding the trails – No one is saying stay away- We are however asking new runners to learn a bit about the trails – The local running stores in Rochester both offer trail programs – We also of course offer events on a weekly basis.

Inexperienced runners pass in the wrong places (or don’t allow faster runners to pass) they struggle on technical aspects of trails – specifically the downhills and it can get dangerous if someone is out of control during a race. We would love you to join us for our weekly informal runs to help you learn the trails before you race them!

What can we do? The bottom line is that we love trail running – We want you to love trail running as well. It is important to all parties involved that we pay attention to our sport. Growth is great – It is helping the sport- We just have to be sure we manage the growth in the right way.

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What do you think? Have you noticed any of the above points in your days on the trails – We would love to hear your story.

Oh – and just for kicks…. http://www.trailporn.com/   Enjoy.

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Eric Eagan Eric Eagan (53 Posts)

Eric Eagan is is an avid and passionate runner living in Greece, NY. Eric tells his stories about the Western NY running scene in a unique way while sprinkling in his goals of motivating others to start running, keep running, and love running.When Eric is not running or writing about running, he is hiking the Adirondak Mountains, the Finger Lakes Trail, snowshoeing the trails and hills of Western NY, or canoeing the waterways of New York State.