For many, summer camp is synonymous with cramped cabins, rank-smelling campers, bland cafeteria food and the dreaded Name Game (just call me Jumpy Jade).
Summer camps might not have changed much, but adult camps have improved 10-fold, mostly because you can now choose your activity of choice. For trail runners, camp is actually fun: think stellar mountain ranges; local, organic cuisine and hours to run, skip and bounce over singletrack trails each day.
We can promise that these trail-running retreats are better than the camps of your youth (though we can’t promise the smells will be much better, since we are talking about trail runners).
1. Hut Run Hut
Where: Vail, Colorado, to Aspen, Colorado
When: September 4-9, 2017 (led by Jenn Shelton), September 18-23, 2017 (led by Rickey Gates)
Professional trail runner (and Trail Runner contributing editor) Rickey Gates’s fun and adventurous trail-running camp takes participants over 100 miles of “hiking trails, lesser-used winter ski trails, jeep roads, some bushwhacking and ridge lines.” Starting in Vail, Colorado, 11 runners and five guides (including Gates and Jenn Shelton) will run between 10 and 25 miles each day, sleeping in 10th Mountain Division Huts along the way.
Gates shies away from calling it a camp, however: “It is a high-alpine migration with an emphasis on fun over fast, where you go off to camp, play all day, eat till you’re stuffed, laugh until you cry and fall asleep in a room with all of your new buddies.” Despite the relatively remote locations of each hut, the food is far from typical camping fare. Says Gates, “Since I got tired of doing the cooking, we bring along a professional chef to serve up a variety of salads, proteins, bread pudding and fresh margaritas.”
The best part of all? Enjoy running new trails each day without having to worry about your gear. Your bag of trail running shoes, tiny shorts and books for reading at night will be driven from hut to hut. All you have to do is run.
2. Run Wild Retreats + Wellness: Iceland Running + Wellness Retreat
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
When: August 7 – 13, 2017
This six-day adventure (“part running vacation, part wellness retreat”) takes participants from the coastal capital of Reykjavik to the black sand beaches of Vik and the geothermal Blue Lagoon, with a focus on the mental side of running. The Iceland retreat, in founder Elinor Fish’s words, is “about helping women add mindfulness to their running routine in order to improve as runners and lower their stress.”
Runners prep for the trip with a six-week Mindful Running Training System program, sent out upon registration, and also participate in several wellness workshops throughout the retreat. The rest of the days are filled with long runs and afternoon stretching sessions. The runs are “where the participants experience big shifts, breakthroughs and ah-ha moments about what’s been holding them back,” Fish says. While participants of any running background are welcome to attend, the retreat is catered to those who are looking to run with more ease and flow. “The ultimate outcome is overall better health, which is the essential foundation that must come first, before building fitness.”
3. Eleven Salomon Running Retreat
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
When: June 22-25, 2017
Catered to seasoned and aspiring trail runners alike, this weekend retreat brings participants together with world-class athletes like Stevie Kremer, 2012 and 2013 SkyRunner World Series Champion, and Adam Chase, president of the All American Trail Running Association. Daily runs are at the heart of the program, accompanied by workshops on gait analysis, nutrition and technique for running technical terrain. Runs vary depending on participants’ skill level, so both beginners and elites can participate.
Home base for the weekend is the Scarp River Lodge, where you can expect chef-prepared food, hot tubs and free shuttles to and from the mountain town of Crested Butte. Says Kremer, “The Eleven Experience takes the accommodations and hospitality to an unprecedented level, making the recovery just as much fun as the activities.”
4. Rob Krar Ultra Camp Experience
Where: Flagstaff, Arizona
When: July 2-8, 2017
Rob Krar’s Ultra Camp Experience is a chance to share trails and insider knowledge with one of the best athletes in the sport. This personal retreat begins and ends in Flagstaff, Arizona, with runs in some of the most picturesque areas of the west, including the red rocks of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, where Krar set a former Fastest Known Time for the rim-to-rim-to-rim crossing. You’ll run nine miles every day (with the option of adding more mileage), plus participate in stretching sessions, nutrition workshops and prehab, which focuses on improving biomechanics through strength and flexibility. On two nights, the Krars welcome participants into their home to enjoy meals prepared by Krar’s wife, Christina.
5. Alaska Mountain Running Camp
Where: Juneau, Alaska
When: June 12-18 (with Jenn Shelton), July 20-26, 2017 (with Joe Grant)
Two-time Ultrarunner of the Year Geoff Roes hosts annual Alaska Mountain Running Camps that take runners up the mountains and along the ridge lines above Juneau, Alaska. Meals are especially thought out, and most food—save one pizza night—is prepared from scratch. Roes caters the camp toward having fun and enjoying the mountains, but also strives to have participants come away as smarter and stronger runners. A fair amount of time is spent discussing nutrition, injury prevention and racing strategy.
“I think it is imperative for all of us to deeply enjoy our running if it is something we wish to do for many years,” says Roes. “This will be our seventh year of putting on these camps, and this is the thing that gets me the most excited about all of our sessions: having a really fun week of running, in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, with a group of like-minded people.”