Regimented work on the track might tune up your speed, but unleashing yourself on scenic trails will feed your soul. Here are four U.S. trail-running camps that turn grueling practice into a vacation.
Runners at PRS Fit Camp.
Since 2010, PRS FIT Over the Divide Trail Running Camps have trained participants in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Boulder. The camp’s signature 18-mile run crosses the Continental Divide and summits Hallett Peak (12,713 feet) between Bear and Grand lakes. Because this is the camp’s longest run, head coach Jeff Kline advises that enrollees should have the ability to run (or at least walk) that distance. “However, we’re a leave-no-one-behind camp, so there’s plenty of supervision and guidance for everyone—from the front-runners to the participants taking their time and enjoying the scenery.” Beyond daily training runs, the camp includes workshops on form mechanics (including a video gait analysis), preparing training plans, and nutrition. The 2014 session runs July 17–20 and costs $300, which includes accommodations at the camp’s five-bedroom lodge.
Experienced trail runners with their sights on an ultra should attend the Leadville Trail 100 Run Training Camp. This Colorado camp is aimed at those training for this year’s Race Across the Sky on August 16. Group runs on key course sections and discussion sessions with veterans give participants the inside track, so to speak, on preparing for the challenge ahead. The 2014 camp will be held June 27–30 and costs $325. (Transportation and accommodations aren’t included.)
For three years, Team RWB Trail Running Camp has brought together runners of all ability levels at Camp Eagle, in Rocksprings, Texas. Thanks to its association with Team Red, White & Blue—a nonprofit organization that supports veterans after combat—civilians, active-duty military, and veterans are among the attendees. The camp sets a rigorous schedule of daily runs, each with a different focus, such as hill running, technical running, speed training, and trail ethics. Although most civilian attendees are somewhat familiar with the sport, codirector Alison Bryant says veterans are often experiencing trail running for the first time. “Many of the veterans leave with plans to run an ultramarathon,” she says, “something they might never have considered before doing the camp.” The 2014 event will be held November 14–17. The $290 registration is discounted for active-duty military and veterans.
On the East Coast, Albany Running Exchange Event Productions’ Trail Running Camp offers a beginner-friendly program aimed at athletes who can complete three miles without stopping. Now in its seventh year, the camp is set at the Dippikill Wilderness Retreat in Warrensburg, New York. It excels at pairing running education and training with such extracurricular activities as acrobatic yoga and swimming. Take, for example, Saturdays’ “Run & Tube Trip,” where participants complete a five-miler to reach inner tubes, which they use to float downriver to an awaiting barbecue. Josh Merlis, camp director, says the program helps runners develop a better sense of self, leaving camp with a “contagious hunger to get out on the trails and enjoy the natural environment around them.”