You’re a runner. Maybe you lace up a few times a week with friends or you just stick to solo jaunts. Perhaps you’ve never raced, or you’ve shown the 26.2 who’s boss. The question is, are you ready for something totally unique?
Whether you're a seasoned trail runner or your Asics have never left asphalt, it doesn't matter. Evergreen Trail Runs are for everyone. There are runners as young as four and as old as 83, with a whole lot of in-between. Other notable participants? Ultra athletes. Parents running with children. First-timers who want a new experience. Oh, and watch out for Jaye-Linh Shark flying past you on the trails: this 10-year-old has run three ETR marathons in just 71 days.
ETR offers a wide variety of courses ranging from five milers, half marathons and full marathons. Too easy, you say? Don't worry. They've got 50Ks and 50 milers, too.
With the exception of Echo Valley, all of Evergreen Trail Runs' events are within 30 minutes of Seattle. You won't find just local runners, though. People fly in from all over the country -- some from as far away as the Cayman Islands -- to participate in these events.
So just what is the attraction to these runs? What is it about ETR that turns the most normal of people into trail-tromping, renegade runners? The gorgeous scenery, for one. Courses take you up mountains, through dense forests, along cliffs overlooking lakes and on winding trails through national parks. The physical challenges are amazing as well.
Leaping over roots and logs, sidestepping puddles and running with elevation gain test your strength in ways that you won't find at the track. And don't think that when you're done with the race you're going to head straight home to an ice bath. There's free pizza, tons of fresh fruit and free drinks at the finish line. Plus, sponsors like Clif, Born to Run and Zico give away goodies, so hanging out after the event is a must.
Don't forget that these runs are totally green. Waste products are divided into recycling and compost and plastic bags aren't used. Race directors and volunteers scour the trails multiple times to remove any traces of the event. They collect everything from random trash to the clip-on streamers and caution tape used to mark the courses. (Note: The caution tape and streamers don't get thrown away. They are reused at the following event).
And did I mention the giveaways? That's right. Free stuff. A raffle for sponsored items is held before each race. Knowing that you just won a pair of Vibrams or a gift certificate to the Born to Run Store will send you flying over the trails.
It's time to join in the fun! Registration is easy and events are much cheaper than traditional races. Just remember to leave your expectations at the start line. With a couple of thousand feet of elevation gain, river-crossings in knee-deep water and uneven terrain, you probably won't get a PR. A triathlete friend of mine said it best: "With Evergreen Trail Runs you have you take your slowest event time and add half an hour to it." With a shrug and smile, she added, "But that's the fun of it."