Skirack's Brittany (front), Chloe (center), and Sara (back) on a training run at Lone Rock Point in Burlington, VT. They are preparing to race in the Catamount Ultra 25K/50K on June 22. Photo: Zach Walbridge.
Skirack's Brittany (front), Chloe (center), and Sara (back) on a training run at Lone Rock Point in Burlington, VT. They are preparing to race in the Catamount Ultra 25K/50K on June 22. Photo: Zach Walbridge.

Trail running. The simultaneously more intense and more laid back version of road running. Back country running. I have to admit I don’t know a lot about the culture and sport, but I have my first Vermont summer in a while stretching out in front of me and I’m ready to dive in.

Runners follow signs on the 2018 Catamount Ultra 25K/50K Trail Race course. Photo Credit: Ironwood Adventure Works
Runners follow signs on the 2018 Catamount Ultra 25K/50K Trail Race course. Photo Credit: Ironwood Adventure Works

When I think of trail running, I remember reading Born to Run, a paperback I purchased from the downtown Borders and read during an angst-ridden senior year of high school. I recall a passage describing this phenom ultra runner’s favorite mid-race refuel. I read that she would pause to ingest a Mountain Dew along with a slice of pizza and my head exploded. I was afraid to eat mayonnaise on a sandwich six hours before my heat of the 800m at the Burlington Invite. Trail runners had to be a different breed.

Fast-forward about eight years and my running experience has had a natural progression from my days of high school mid-distance to college cross country to my recent entrance into the world of marathon training. I ran the Vermont City Marathon in 2017, followed it up with Baystate later that year, and managed to snag a BQ that didn’t ultimately grant me a Boston entry because of the high volume of qualifiers that year. They’ve since lowered the qualifying time by five minutes, making it an austere 3:30. I had a blast dropping down to the half distance and running Unplugged this April, but I find myself in a bit of a lull. I can’t seem to get fired up to train for another marathon even though it’s my dream to run Boston, my second hometown. 3:30 feels like Mount Everest, meanwhile I recently raced a 5K for fun and that distance didn’t exactly welcome me back with open arms either.

Runners along the 2018 Catamount Ultra 25K/50K Trail Race course. Photo Credit: Ironwood Adventure Works
Runners along the 2018 Catamount Ultra 25K/50K Trail Race course. Photo Credit: Ironwood Adventure Works

Enter the Catamount Ultra 25K registration page. In the paraphrased words of Lorelei Gilmore, I’ll give almost anything a try as long as I get to buy a new outfit. Trail running comes with a new set of gear from trail shoes to sleek hydration vests that become more essential as the temperature rises. But it’s not just about the outfit, clearly, although planning my race-day look has always been one of my favorite ways to procrastinate.

Everything about the Catamount Ultra 25K is going to be brand new. The distance, the course, the terrain...it’s all uncharted territory. The race takes place at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT, a mythical place in Vermont that is relatively unfamiliar to me. I went out on some Nordic skis there a few years ago but I can only imagine how different the trails will look in June.

We’ve had such a wet spring this year that I have been sticking to the road in preparation for the VCM half and half relay; I’m looking forward to racing at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center Tuesday Night Trail Series. It is invigorating and frightening in a good way. When you’ve been running in some capacity since grade school it sort of feels like you’ve been doing the same thing for eternity. But this feels decidedly different. In a weird way, I like not knowing what to expect.

- Chloe Egan,
Skirack Run Specialist
Click here to learn more about Chloe.


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