We’ve avoided going down this singletrack. But it’s happening. Is trail running better than road running? According to empirical evidence (asking trail runners), it appears so. As much as we don’t want to divide the running population and create an us-versus-them mentality, we thought we’d take the risk. So, here are 12.5 reasons trail running is better than road running.
1. Trail running is better-looking
We see more beautiful sights in the trails, forests, and mountains. (Trail runners are also better-looking, but we won’t go there.)
2. We have better aid stations
Whether it’s a themed race with props and a ferris wheel, serving the best food Italy has to offer, or Scott Jurek is volunteering to fill your hydration pack–our aid stations are out of this world. Trail running aid stations also often exist in the middle of nowhere–like magic.
3. Our volunteers work harder
Trail running volunteers will hike into the depths of the remote wilderness at 2 a.m. just to ensure you have water on the trail. They will also stay up for days on end to volunteer as a marshal, trail builder, finish-line timer, aid station captain, or flag sweeper dressed as the Grim Reaper.
4. We are always tanned
We may not do this sport to look good, but that faint covering of dust and dirt on our skin makes us appear golden all day long. And we usually can’t get it out with the toughest scrub brush.
5. We get high
Whether you believe vert is real or not, trails aren’t always flat. And most trail runners love getting high bagging peaks with incredible views. Mountain running highs are like the runner’s high, but way better.
6. We have better snacks
Trail runners don’t stop at gels and Nuun tabs. The sky is the limit for snacks on the trails. Our running packs are more stacked than any aisle of the grocery store. And we have a special talent for running while consuming candy, bacon, sandwiches, nuts, pickles, and coke.
7. Recovery is more fun
Ask a trail runner how they recover, and they’ll likely respond, “beer.” We are big fans of the craft brewing trend, and think it’s no coincidence trail running has increased in popularity alongside breweries.
8. We don’t care about pace…
…as much as a roadie would. On many technical trails, pace is irrelevant. Trail runners have learned to run and move their body according to the trail or mountain they are on. Effort matters more than pace–and we will happily use this excuse for going a bit slower sometimes.
9. We have better costumes
Head to any trail race, and you’re almost guaranteed to see someone in a tutu, badger costume, or strange hat. Roadies dress up too, but we think it’s funnier when a giant banana pops out of nowhere in the alpine.
10. The best roadies are coming to the dark side
11. We have personality
Not to say road runners aren’t an entertaining bunch. But trail runners are quite strange and full of unique quirks only they understand.
12. We are unconditionally supportive
Although we are currently working on decreasing the gender gap in longer ultrarunning distances, we are an inclusive and supportive group. If you want to see the meaning of unconditional support in action, head to a trail race near you.
12.5 As trail runners know, there are more than 10 reasons.
This is just the start.