Trail Bloggers

Sarah Lavender Smith December 28th, 2011

Find training tips and wacky wisdom on the blogosphere’s virtual trails

Trail runners make great bloggers. Seeking adventure while spending hours in the quiet company of nature, they spin …

Illustration by Jeremy Duncan

Trail runners make great bloggers. Seeking adventure while spending hours in the quiet company of nature, they spin yarns like Twain and wax philosophical like Thoreau. They sweat the details of their sport and yearn to swap information about it. And they tend have a geek streak.

It’s no wonder so many trail runners have established a presence online to chronicle their experiences and connect with kindred spirits. The search tool Technorati recently counted over 245 blogs tagged for “trail running” and some 5000 postings on the topic. They’re brimming with trail tips, race reports, personal progress, gear gripes and, of course, the meaning of life. But like the idiosyncratic runners themselves, they’re all over the map. Many personal blogs are virtual bogs—unless you really like to read about every mile logged and the runner’s gastrointestinal well being along the way.

Reading blogs can inspire and inform your own training, but fruitlessly searching for worthwhile ones can drain time better spent outdoors. What follows is a guide to 25 hot blogspots. Think of them as virtual trailheads— good starting points to visit frequently—that link to other paths to explore.

News and Reviews

Two runners-who-blog have earned reputations as the go-to guys for reliable and timely trail-running news and commentary: Scott Dunlap and Bryon Powell. Since 2004—a year that could be considered the Renaissance in the medium’s relatively short history—Dunlap’s Trail Runner’s Blog (runtrails.blogspot.com) has maintained a smart balance between journalistic reporting and personal reflections. Powell’s IRunFar (blog.irunfar.com), which took root as a personal blog, has blossomed as a news hub powered by a team that cranks out thoroughly trail-tested gear reviews and race recaps along with lively features.

A couple of full-scale websites (which aren’t really blogs per se) deserve mention because they rely heavily on blogs to create a clearinghouse of trail-running info. While this kitchen-sink approach leads to uneven quality and multiple personalities, the grab bag of content is rarely dull. Trail Running Soul (trailrunningSoul.com) draws on multiple sources for a content package not unlike trail mix—varied ingredients, very filling and easy to digest for running—while Muddy Socks (muddysocks.com), a social networking site, allows its users (including you, if you’re so inclined) to sign in and blog away.

Blogs by Top Dogs

Some of the best trail runners make the best bloggers. Here’s where the hardcore reveal their secrets, offer an insider’s perspective and share their pain as they reflect on their “blistering” times.

Case in point: ski-bum-turned-ultra-phenom Karl Meltzer (karlmeltzer.com). With a style like a sportscaster, he handicaps the who’s-who of the trail ultrarunning race circuit and takes readers on his odysseys along the Appalachian Trail or through the Wasatch Mountains. In a similar but more contemplative vein is Anton Krupicka, who could have a second career as a travel writer. His blog, Riding the Wind (antonkrupicka.blogspot.com), transports readers to singletracks near his home base of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and beyond.

For a while, it seemed as though Scott Jurek had abandoned his blog (scottjurek.com/blog), but he was just taking a well-deserved break. His post on the benefits of off-season “hibernating” typifies his best writing: personal yet practical, informal yet informative. The same might be said of posts by Andy Jones-Wilkins (ajwsblog.blogspot.com), plus Andy adds an extra shot of humor to his mix of commentary and race reports (for example, search his archives for his satirical open letter to the Western States Board of Trustees).

On the women’s side, a couple of past winners of the 135-mile Badwater— Lisa Bliss (lisabliss.blogspot.com) and Jamie Donaldson (altitudeultrarunner.blogspot.com)—both bring a likeable voice and sharp eye to their posts, while the prolific Devon Crosby Helms (devoncrosbyhelms.com) spices up engaging race reports with details on diet and nutrition influenced by her background as a chef. Blogs by Annette Bednosky (www.annettebednosky.blogspot.com) and Krissy Moehl (web.me.com/krissymoehl) may make you wish you could run with them, too.

Team Spirit

Team blogs feature elite runners as guest authors who spread the word about upcoming events and industry news. La Sportiva Mountain Running Blog (mountainrun.wordpress.com), Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team (www.wasatchspeedgoat.com) and Team Montrail (ultracup.blogspot.com) are all worth a visit.

If teams were judged by their blogs, however, the Rogue Valley Runners (roguevalleyrunners.blogspot.com) might get the gold. Forget about the Ashland Shakespeare Festival; a constellation of ultra stars who blog here make trail running seem like the most dramatic thing happening around Southern Oregon (but the blog’s friendly vibe suggests they don’t take themselves too seriously).

Blogs Less Traveled

Several lesser-known but not necessarily less talented trail runners have developed highly readable and reliable blogs—guys like Jean Pommier (fartherfaster.blogspot.com), Adam Blum (coursetrained.blogspot.com) and New Zealand’s Paul Charteris (trailrunz.blogspot.com). While many personal blogs suffer from bad poetry and Too Much Information, the diary-like postings of Tim Long (www.footfeathers.com) and the Oprah-inspired Julie Berg (julieberg.blogspot.com) may hook you.

Finally, let us now praise not-so-famous blogs for their comic relief. Want to read a Seussical spoof, “Green Skin and Puke,” on why a particular runner deserves a spot in the Barkley 100-miler? Then search the archives of Alan Geraldi (endurazone.blogspot.com). Want to learn how an ER doc copes with delirium while shoehorning ultras in between graveyard shifts and parenting? Then subscribe to the always-entertaining Mark Tanaka (ultrailnaka.blogspot.com). And if you want a deadpan wit enhanced by offbeat graphics, follow Ken Childress (trailzombie.blogspot.com). He’s a TATUR (Tulsa Area Trail & Ultra Runner) who finds lots to laugh at on the trail—and in the mirror.

Sarah Lavender Smith (www.sarahlavendersmith.com/blog) is a Bay Area trail runner and writer.

               
   
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