Photo by Mau00ebl BALLAND on

Have you ever seen the strangest sport ever?

It operates the opposite from all other sports in its arena. While all other mountain sports enjoy a fast downhill and some sweet airtime, participants in this sport are going slow on the downhill. Slow? Not only do they go slow downhill, they go slower than they did on the way up the mountain. How anyone can enjoy a sport like that, I honestly don’t know.

Then there’s the air factor (and here I mean being up in it, not breathing it). I’ve seen the occasional mountain biker who doesn’t take the jumps and catch some air. I don’t understand them either. My brain wonders what the point is of going up the mountain only to go down in a moderate shuffle. To be fair, some of the ones who go down in this fashion are older people, though I have seen younger kids doing it. My guess for the younger ones is that they’re inexperienced and timid on the jumps. They fear the broken bone. The old ones have the same fear, probably, though they also have the decrease of function to worry about. Of course, all I have are guesses and inference from observations. My purpose for riding is not theirs. And that is the same for the strangest sport ever. Those who participate in the strangest sport are obviously not like me. They don’t think the same as me. They don’t sport the same as me.

I’m referring to the sport of trail running. Optimistically, I can see the charm of being in nature. It’s definitely more appealing to be in the trees than it is to be among the never-ending lines of automobiles where some runners run. The air in the mountains is more healthy than on the road. Despite these obvious similarities, it’s difficult for me to imagine any other appeal. What is the motivation of a trail runner?

For the sake of comparison, let’s list some other mountain sports. Luge, skeleton, and bobsled may not be the first sports you think of when you think of mountain sports, but I’m sure if you think about any of these, you’ll realize they all go fast downhill. Snowboarders may take a lift up to the top of the mountain, and it may take a long time to get there, but they go considerably faster on the way down. Skiers do the same. Even those who go beyond the groomed trails of a ski slope, carrying their skis or board on a backpack, go slow uphill (sometimes by snowshoe) and fast downhill. When the snow is gone, downhill mountain bikers may take the same gondola that the skiers and snowboarders took to the top of a mountain, but they don’t plod down the mountain, they rocket.

One of the reasons trail runners plod downhill is because the sport is hard on a body. Running in general is hard on the knees, ankles, and hips. Adding the extra gravity of a slope also adds to the pounding on the body. The pounding of a runner’s game can result in ailments such as bone spurs and plantar fasciitis, among many others. The wear-and-tear can affect a runner’s tendons, cartilage, and joints. The bones in a joint can be used beyond the design until they begin to touch. Bones aren’t meant to rub together unless you’re talking about teeth. Even then, the action can be painful.

So let’s weigh it all together. You’ve got the injurious factor, multiplied by rough terrain, loose rocks to stumble over, slopes which add to the wear-and-tear on the body. You’ve got the slowness factor (weighted heaviest as a negative). You’ve got the no-airtime factor (next heaviest). To counter those negatives, you have pleasant scenery and fresh air to breathe as positives. Putting it all this way, in this perspective, tells me there must be a measure of insanity to a trail runner, unless they’ve somehow never heard of hiking. You could get the same fresh air and beautiful scenery while hiking and have none of the excessive strain on the body. Hikers, even snowshoers, can enjoy the scenery both up and down the mountain and at the same speed in both directions. Nothing seems strange about that.

I suppose if you want the hardcore burn of one thousand stair laps, maybe the best advice would be to trade in the slowshoes for some snowshoes.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: