Mountain running has quickly become one of our favorite ways to enjoy running.
Whether your love is running, walking, hiking, biking, or some other form of adventure, there is something awe-inspiring in being surrounded by a mountainous landscape.
Oh, and there are so many types of mountains to enjoy at so many different elevations.
That is not to mention that the number of mountains, trails, and adventures to be had is without limit!
Though I'd grown up in an active family, it wasn't often that we found ourselves venturing out to the mountains for any excursions, camping, day hikes, or otherwise.
More of our athletic pursuits centered around courts, fields, mats, and the pool, for both individual and team sports.
So, I'm not entirely sure what my first real mountain experience had been.
Though, I'm now making up for lost time!
It wasn't my first mountain running excursion, but I'd visited Tempe, Arizona in 2005.
I was there for a 3-day workshop for Personal Training, at what was formerly Athletes Performance (and is now EXOS), and to learn about the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) from presenters; Gray Cook and Lee Burton.
Following the workshop, I'd decided to spend additional time in Arizona, and so I made my way up to Sedona. The red rock formations there were just a wonder; so much different than anything I'd seen in-person in the Northeast.
It could have been any number of obstacle course races, whether Spartan Race or Tough Mudder.
I'd spent time with teammates braving the infamous (sometimes double) sandbag carries, popularized by Spartan Race, with Killington Mountain in Vermont as one venue, we'd visited more than my legs might like to remember.
And, I remember time on Gunstock Mountain with friends for our very first Tough Mudder experience. (We were woefully unprepared, where the temps were in the 90s, and we'd neglected to carry our own water and nutrition. We won't ever make that mistake again!).
No matter the State, the mountain, or the reason (e.g., race, training, vacation, etc.), the one constant, and what has made the experiences so meaningful, is that it has been shared with friends.
And, whether it was the OCR (obstacle course race) community, mountain running teams, trail running enthusiasts, or those we happened to meet along the trails, each added to the bank of memories.
Those memories, because they are so good, keep bringing us back for more.
Sometimes, that is to revisit a specific mountain, event, or community. Other times, it is to explore new surroundings and trails.
Either way, we absolutely value experiences over things!
We've had the great fortune to explore a number of mountains.
Among our favorites are those we've explored in Vermont with The Endurance Society during several of their events, including Infinitus, Frigus, and The Gravel Grinder.
With so many options for races, the incredible community, and the beauty of the sites selected (we love The Blueberry Hill Inn, Goshen, VT), it is no wonder we keep going back for more!
Killington has a special place in my heart here, where a great experience with ES had been during the 7 hours, and 40 miles, in my very first time on a fat bike during the initial edition of The Gravel Grinder!
What an adventure that was! And, a good amount longer than the time it took to road bike up the highest peak in Massachusetts; Mt. Greylock!
Colorado has quickly turned into a favorite destination, where (at the time of this writing) I've visited three times, and racing during two of those visits.
One visit included a Spartan Race at Fort Carson, CO (our first taste of exercise at elevation), And, the second visit for the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2016 (even more exercise at elevation! Haha!).
One incredible experience was our time in Wartburg, Tennessee, wandering through the Great Smoky Mountains, as part of the Barkley Fall Classic.
With such lore surrounding the Big(ger) Barkley, our sampling of the bite-size version, during our first trip to Tennessee was certainly memorable, as was our time enjoying Nashville nightlife (after a good 24 hours rest post-race).
I'm still not sure how my more than 12 hours on that course was, at once, both a solid day in the mountains and also just a blink of an eye.
Though I'm undecided on a return to the BFC, I am very much looking forward to participating in several of Laz's (the Race Director) creations.
Available on Amazon (affiliate link).
As adventure in the mountains becomes more accessible, those who enjoy training, recreation, and racing in the environment are sharing their best tips to success and enjoyment.
With this being just a small sampling of our experience thus far, it is obvious that there is much more to experience.
It would be fantastic to travel to see States and places that we've not yet. However, a big draw here in New England may be the 48 4,000' peaks of New Hampshire.
I've had several friends complete this feat (many who have gone back for more), and it is an absolute for me, though I'm planning to take my time with it to enjoy as much of the experience as possible!