Down & Dirty: Growth Is Good, But Growing Pains Hurt Trail Running

What’s Next?

For the foreseeable future, continued growth in trail running and trail racing is imminent. Growth will bring more money and more money may entice more elites to races. And with almost 40,000 miles of trails between the Rails-to-Trails program and National Park Service properties alone, both new and seasoned trail runners have training options. Yet, smart growth and management are imperative to ensure popular trails aren’t used to death.

Hobbs thinks education, sustainability and “green” events are important to smart growth. Ramage emphasizes mixing long and short distance races to appeal to a range of runners.

Conversations are key, according to Mike Foote, a race director and elite runner for The North Face, who sees the current boom as an opportunity for athletes, sponsors, race directors and land management organizations to shape the future of the sport.

“If the sport still promotes, advocates and inspires folks to get out and explore open spaces, or prioritizes developing and strengthening the running community, I’m all for growth,” Foote says.

These sound like good topics to ponder on a trail run.

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