When I did my 25k last week, it wasn’t my first exposure to trail racing, but I am still fairly new to it. Coming from a long-term road racing background, the differences in the two environments really stand out to me. To sum it up in a nutshell, trail racing provides a much more low-key, laid back environment. To nit-pick it out, though, here are the differences I notice between the two:
- Trail runners aren’t there for the swag, but rather the experience. My $35 entry to the 25k (bargain!) included a couple of aid stations and a finisher’s medal. That’s it.
- Trail runners are a bit more self sufficient. Where road racers are wont to complain about a shortage of aid stations and what they offer at those stations, trail runners come with their own water and fuel, choosing sometimes to simply bypass the aid stations. Note–I learned a lesson on this one, wishing I had brought my own water as the aid stations at Rosaryville were indeed pretty far spread out.
- Trail runners expect a little bit extra or a little bit less in terms of the promised mileage–and they don’t complain about it. From what I gather, an extra mile or two is pretty common during a trail race and that’s just fine by the participants.
- There’s not as much nervous energy before a trail race–most people seem to show up pretty close to the start time, relax and get moving when the gun goes. No jockeying for starting positions or worrying about lining up ahead of others.
As you can probably tell, I like this more laid back vibe. I’ve said it before, but I’m really interested in doing more trail racing moving forward. I’m not giving up the road, that’s for sure, but more time on trails and doing trail racing is definitely in the cards for me.
If you’ve done trail races, what difference between the two types of racing did you notice? Preference for one or the other?