Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Band of Runners Trail Camp

I spent last weekend in Virginia at the Band of Runners Trail Camp. It was a mind blowing experience where veterans and gold star families gathered to learn about trail running, trail running skills and get introduced to trail running culture.

But let's back up a second.

This is ultra running superstar Liza Howard:

I first met Liza at the NFECSF a year ago.  I was really impressed by her as a coach very very concerned about how her runner was doing (that she came to surprise pace).  I was also impressed that she knew what Ten Junk Miles was.  She told me about the camp generally and I offered to help in any way I could.

Shortly thereafter I recorded a long run interview with her for Ten Junk Miles: 

(Available on Itunes): LINK TO LIZA INTERVIEW

After this interview I think I had fully drank the Liza Howard Kool-Aide.  This is a special person who really cares about making the world around her a better place.  My kind of people.  I wanted to help the project and Liza in any way I could....so we did some raffles and posts on Facebook to get behind her project so that it could be funded.

Then she invited me to camp.  Seriously?  Me?  The list of mentors included legends of the sport, elite runners and really accomplished people.  I'm none of those and have very little connection to the cause.  But I went anyway.  And so glad I did.

I can't begin to explain to you all what took place.  Imagine vets and gold star family members exploring the trails and trail running life with these legends of the sport.  They learned about stretching, form, nutrition, blister care, trail etiquette, and so much more.  While some had experience and used this to refine their skills and learn more about the sport, still others took their first trail run, their first night run and met their first trail running friends.

I met a lot of new people and made a lot of new friends.  From Joe Prusaitis (for sure my new brother from another mother) to Jamil (Jam Jam) Coury (who didn't challenge me to an eat/run event).  To Liza and her amazing family (especially Ruby) and everyone in between.  I got to go on legend Dave Mackey's first trail run in a long time.  I heard AJW give an inspirational speech.  and I may, just may have been talked into another stupid running event or two (Brian Ricketts will be Whataburger Champion no more).  I want to thank each and every one of the mentors.  It meant a lot to meet you, spend time with you and get to know you.  You're all very special people.  

But most of all.  More than anything.  I got to see first hand how therapeutic trail running can be.  How it can connect us and make us vulnerable.  How our stories and memories can inspire and open up others.  And how being with other trail runners, nature and having a common purpose can form an extremely powerful bond and connection.  When I left I knew I would want to do more to help this cause.  I also wondered what other groups could benefit from the magic of this community.  I already know it works wonders for addicts, trauma survivors.....who else.

The end of the year is coming and I always reflect on what more I can do.  Yes, medals are fine and I like having cool ultrasignup results, but at the end of the day I want to be able to look back and say that I had a positive impact on the world.  Things like this make me hungry for more.  It's not just running and trails.  It's not just finish lines.  It's humanity.  And we can really make a difference if we open our hearts and minds and look around.

Do you want to help?  Even a small donation would make a big difference, so here's a link if you want to donate to the Band of Runners so that future camps can take place: DONATE  If even 10% of the people that read this left $5.00 it would make a HUGE impact.

PS: I also took a class on Wilderness First Aid.  So if you get hurt on the trail, I stumble upon you and I say I have medical training DON'T LAUGH :)

PSS: I'm off to run a 100 mile self supported turkey trot for ALS next week and a 225 mile jog around Texas to see churches the following week.  So if I die, please tell my wife to tell my dog that I loved him.