We're all familiar with road races, from the kids' first 1K at ages two and three to 5Ks for my daughter and 10Ks for my son—we're all about running. But we entered our first family trail race by accident. We always like to pack our vacations with plans to hike and bike, but on this trip we saw an advertisement for a timed trail run the following day and it immediately caught my attention. As an avid runner with two kids bounding with energy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. What better way to spend vacation than running through the alpine wilds?
The adult race covered 4 miles and 1100 vertical feet of hiking trails, lakes and beautiful views. The kids' race ran 1.8 miles over similar terrain. A trail race is a great mix between hiking and running, so it's a natural progression from our usual interests. The intermediate distance in the kids' race was enticing as well—long enough to feel like a hike but short enough for our beginner trail running kids to handle.
We all enjoy trying new experiences and this race gave our family the chance to see the world and the trails from a different perspective. I signed up and my son jumped in as well. My daughter was a little reluctant but was excited for the views, the family time and the fact that she could walk if she really wanted to.
The Morning of the Race
The gathering area for the trail race surprised us all. It was a cross between a tiny expo and a party on the mountain—a more tight-knit group than your typical road race.
The Kids' Start...and My Daughter's Finish
The kids were called to line up behind the course leader—a man dressed in an animal suit and a zebra wig. My son bounced on his toes in excitement. My daughter glanced at the Zebra-man and shot me a look that clearly asked if she was really supposed to follow an animal-clad grown-up into the mountains. The starter asked the kids to raise their hands if they were faster than their parents. My son's hand shot up. My daughter looked skeptical. The group of 40 or so kids crouched waiting for the start. My son took off at a sprint at the sound of the whistle.