Try trail running at The North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 9, 2012 

So, you've mastered the art of traditional road races. What's next?

No, the answer is not, "I'm going to Disneyland!" Unless your idea of Disneyland includes uncertain terrain, rage-inducing inclines and a foggy concept of space and time.

Welcome to the world of trail running.

Sure, it bears some slight similarities to a standard 5K in downtown Columbus -- like, um, sweat. In both cases, you're (usually) moving your body at a rapid pace.

But trail races mark a separate universe, a place where twists and turns often replace the comfort of familiar pavement.

Interested? The North Face Endurance Challenge comes to town this weekend.

Held Saturday and Sunday at F.D. Roosevelt State Park, it spans trail races in distances ranging from 5K to 50 miles. It's part of a national series of races.

This weekend's event is expected to attract thousands of people.

Online registration has closed, but spots remain in all races and you can register on race day.

I've done one trail race: a 5K at Fort Benning a few months ago.

It took me significantly longer than a traditional 5K, and I lost my GPS signal early in the race. Hence the earlier comment about a perceived absence of space and time.

Even if I covered the same distance, I felt the impact in a distinctly different set of muscles.

Trail running seems to include a level of strategy that you don't see in standard road races. That's why Big Dog Running Company hosted a Transition to Trail Clinic in the weeks leading to the North Face Endurance Challenge.

Confession: I didn't do much research before my first trail race. But it was just a 5K. If you're a newbie in the trail running universe, I'd recommend Sunday's 5K at the North Face Endurance Challenge.

If you're attending this weekend's North Face Endurance Challenge, remember there's no parking at the start/finish. Shuttles travel to and from the event. Meet at the beach area at Callaway Gardens. Estimated one-way shuttle time is 10 minutes.

In addition to the races, the local North Face Endurance Challenge will include a meet and greet with "Ultramarathonman" Dean Karnazes as well as a free kids' race that will be offered Saturday and Sunday.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.

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