What you Run From?
By Sean “Run Bum” Blanton
Towards the end of my recent trip to the Everest region of
Nepal, I really discovered what trail running means to me. I was running along
one of the many unmarked trails leading away from the Everest base camp. I was
flying downhill through a small village at around 14,000 feet, and I passed
some of the local Nepali's who were herding their Yaks. As I kept running, I
could tell by the ghastly look on their faces that they were somewhat frightened
by me. One man even dropped what he was carrying and said to me in broken
English, “What you run from?” It occurred to me that they didn’t understand why
I was running. Most people here (and many places I run) don't find pleasure in
running. They only run for two reasons: When they are being chased or when they
are chasing something. These Nepali’s were just hoping that I was not being
chased (and that they should be running to).
“Namaste! I am running for fun,” I replied with a goofy
smile on my face that only a mother could love. Puzzled, the man looked at me
funny and bid me, “Namaste.” Namaste is a way to say hello and goodbye. Loosely
means, "The spirit in me respects the spirit in you."
I reflected on this later that day. Was I chasing something?
And then, it hit me. I run for adventure, simply for the thrill. When I get out
there and run in remote areas, I am seeing the world by power of your own two
feet, and smiling more in a day than most will in a lifetime.
Not everyone finds adventure through running. But I do. For
me, finding a fun trail and running it in my own way is an adventure in itself.
Whether it is in the Himalayas or amidst the Alps or just on the streets of
Atlanta, regardless of where I am or what I am running, I always make it as fun
as possible. “When you run for fun you always win”
As someone who travels, or rather runs, around the world to
find far off adventures, I can honestly say that adventure starts where you
want it too. You just have to seek it out.
My 5 favorite places to trail run in the world and why:
5. Na Pali
Coast Trail. Kauai, Hawaii.
The island of Kauai is one of the most beautiful islands in
the world. It is a south pacific island that some how floated north of the
equator. It's rugged and wild. The Na Pali Coast trail know as Kalalau Trail,
is an 11 mile (each way) trail along the north shore of Kauai. It hugs the
breathtakingly famous Na Pali
Coast cliffs. Up and down in and out it takes you on this roller coaster of a
trail. A points you are mere inches from a 700 foot cliff drop. There is one way in and one way out.
4. Santa Monica Mountains, North of Los Angeles, California
Driving north from Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast
Highway, there is one of the most epically beautiful trails I have ever run on.
Stop at Point Mugu State Park. Follow the trail up either side of the canyon
for un paralleled views. From sean level the trail climbs a good 2,000+ on
either side. You are surrounded by cacti, small shrubbery and desert looking
fauna along this single track heaven. This trail really embodies to me what
California is and what it was some 100 years ago. Simply a must do!
Back Bone. Gallatin range outside Bozeman, Montana
Starting at around 7,200 ft you quickly climb up Hyalite
Peak to 10,300 ft. You then hold between 9,000 and 10,000 feet along a winding
ridge. It is about 25 miles one way from the Palace Butte Campground to Windy
pass forest service station. The views are insane! Out of breath you try to
keep focused but there is just to much beauty. You can see Yellowstone National
Park, Big Sky Resort and various other ranges from the ridge. Elk, Bears and mountain lions are all known
to inhabit the area. Bring bear spray and never run/hike alone.
2. Canadian Rockies.
There are so many trails here I can not begin to try and
describe them. Fly into Calgary and then head north towards Banff. Canmore,
located in a small valley in between the mountains is one of the first towns
you will hit. Its one of my favorite places in the world. Both sides of the highway offer
multiple trails to the top of peaks. Also check out the trails around Lake
Morraine and Lake Louise. And for the even more adventurous check out some of
the remote trails in Jasper National Park. All of this is bear territory so act
accordingly. There is a trail for every runnable day of the summer here!
1. Trail Du
Mont Blanc. Chamonix, France.
The Trail du Mont Blanc, or TMB as locals call it, is a
circumnavigation of Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Europe. One
of THE MOST CHALLENGING trails in the world. Enough up and down to last 3
lifetimes. It's rocky as heck and the weather is known to change in the blink
of an eye. On the trail you are gifted with spectacular views of the Mont Blant
Massif. Glaciers, snow covered peaks that disappear in to the clouds, and
towering views of the valleys belowe you are what you can expect from this
trail. You'll pass through 18th century looking towns in three
different countries, France, Italy and Switzerland.
Ok I'll be honest. Half of the reason I love this trail is
because of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. It is a series of races held on the
trail. So I am a partial favorite to it. Race or not it is a must.