Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Trail Running in the French Alps

"There is no place that compares to Chamonix in terms of the prestige of the mountains. Maybe Zermatt, but that's about it. The trails have been there for centuries. They weren't initially there because of running. They were there as a way to get to the next valley." So says an article at Competitor (link below) which focuses on the unique culture of trail running in the French Alps.

All the more interesting for my own disagreement with the following assertion: "Whereas the American style of trail running has mostly been influenced by road running infused with perhaps some latent hippie subculture tendencies and a newfound joy of escaping to the high country, mountain running in Europe, and especially in Chamonix, is largely connected to its centuries-old mountaineering and long-distance hiking roots. That's not to say there isn't hardcore trail running throughout mountainous regions of the U.S.—there is—it's just that the adventurous vibe and sense of comradeship among other mountain sports participants is woven into the fabric of life in Chamonix." Yes, there's a good amount of competitiveness in American ultra-running, but the degree of trail contamination by road-running mentality is up for debate. The hippie tendencies of trail runners are not so latent. There's quite a bit of meditativeness and contemplation that goes on out there in the shadow of mountains that were there long before we were born and will be there long after we die kind of feeling. Dare I say there's a lot of camaraderie out there as well! A great read nonetheless.

And not Chamonix but at least in the Alps (below): I bought a Swiss Army knife in Interlaken, but why the hell didn't I get up on that trail!?!? (Credit to trailporn.)

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