Do not get me wrong here, I have tremendous respect for ultra-runners and one of my best friends is one. He’s actually got us all brainstorming right now on the benefits of carb loading vs. fat loading as he preps for his next 2 races. I am just hoping that means I can eat more than 10 sweet potato fries a week, but that’s a whole other topic for another blog!
The media in general favors stories about superhuman achievements and people surpassing what seems like unattainable obstacles. We all like to hear about the "phoenix rising from its ashes" and conquering the impossible through adverse conditions (weather, injury, etc). This is the best way to gain visibility and popularity no matter the subject.
Some will argue though that the focus on ultra-distances can become a deterrent when promoting the discipline to the general public. Someone who’s never been out on a trail run will not be motivated to go sign up for one after reading about the Canadian Death Race. Granted, naming an event the "Death Race" may not be the best marketing strategy to attract a passive couch potato looking for a change of lifestyle.
At Fitness United, we encourage our members to step out of their daily lives and set goals to remain active and healthy. One of the main focuses of the FitU Training System is to select and prepare members for at least one trail run during the season. We select races which feature various distances to enable newbies and experts alike to partake in the same event and bond through that process.
We are very lucky on the island of Montreal as we are but just a short distance away from beautiful peaks and landscapes. In the past 15 years, trail running in Quebec has gained a lot of popularity and numerous sold-out events are now held across the province. These events are organized around the concept of fun-filled family weekend getaways. Therefore, you will often see the entire family registered in a trail race in distances ranging from 58k to 1k for children.
The ultra-runners will get most of the attention from the organizers and the cheers from the crowd will be very loud every time one of them crosses the finish line after a grueling long run. But crossing that same finish line will be trail runners completing their first ever 5k with their legs aching and a wide proud grin lighting their fatigued faces. They know that they too have just fought through the elements. They too have pushed their physical and mental limits beyond their normal capabilities. They too have earned their bragging rights with the same energy, sweat and burning quads as the ultra-runners. And they too, deserve to be featured front and center by Trail Runner as a reminder to us all that resilience and courage come in different shapes and distances ;)