The common thread with trail running is that it’s about the journey and not the destination. Venues range from wine farms to mountain ridges and remote wilderness locations, with something for all tastes and abilities.
Trail running has a seriously competitive form, of which we have only just started to see what is possible, but for the majority of runners it’s all about getting off the road, away from traffic and enjoying the surroundings.
There are a few major differences in a trail race that you need to bear in mind:
- Terrain and total ascent/descent have a huge impact on the time it takes to complete a trail race. Unlike road running, constant pace is more often than not impossible. Throw in a few sharp climbs and rough terrain and you add hours to your time. Experience and checking previous winning times will give you a good idea of how long you can expect your race to take.
- Trail running race norm, due to the very nature of the venues you run in, require you to be self-sufficient. Water tables are a bonus and are not to be expected. This means that you may often be carrying at least a liter of water on you, plus other safety items such as a wind breaker, cellphone and first aid kit (depending on the event).
- Hiking is as much to trail running as waves are to surfing. Hiking can be as fast as running with half the effort on steep terrain, so you can expect to walk from time to time, once again adding to your time taken.
Wildrunner have established their own Wildrunner Trail Grading' system (WTG). This grading system was established to help new trail runners make informed decisions about which races might best suit their ability. For other events that don't use this WTG, try to find out as much as you can from other runners and the race organiser as to the aspects mentioned above.