I walked outside yesterday clad in my winter running shoes, a well worn pair of Salomon SpikeCross3 trail shoes, overkill in the real world but here they’re a bit of the norm. I bought them in February after having destroyed an old pair of Asics Arctics, the Asics version of an aggressive winter trail shoe. I bought the shoes very hesitantly with the steep $170.00 price tag, but then that’s what credit cards are for right? Over the last month and a half I have put almost 200 miles on them and the fear has been washed away, best damn trail shoe I’ve ever owned.
So as another amazingly warm winter day welcomed me as I walked out the front door armed in my trusty Salomon’s (affectionately called the “Beasts”) I jogged the short distance to the trailhead for a warmup. As I hit the Dunbar Trail I was suddenly reminded what happens to snow packed trails that are designed for below zero temps for months at a time and in fact have been exposed to temperatures of more than 30 degrees above normal for most of this winter. They punch through, become soft, unstable and are a nightmare to run on in certain area’s.
The first two mile of my run has become a cautious tale of gently gliding along the trail while attempting not to crash into a tree while having my ankle folded under me as the trail collapses beneath me midstride. But then that’s only the first mile and a half, after that the trail gets sweet as hell! Alaskan trail running, it has a price. You can’t hit the trail here expecting to be able to head out on a miracle trail for a crazy, sick ass run without having to pay the piper, and payback is a bitch. There really is no such thing as an easy trail run here if you really want to run trails that see little traffic on a regular basis.
The trick is to appreciate the pain you’re going to endure, it is inevitable and it is the price for admission to play here. Well after my torturous first mile and a half the run was amazing, and the turnaround came faster than I had expected giving me a moment to shed a layer of clothing so I could run comfortably back. Osprey hydration packs need work, the Rev 1.5 which I have relegated to runs between 8 and 10 miles lack storage space in the back, have very little pocket space up front for anything, the handy “digi flip” pocket for your smart phone is lacking. It’s tiny and would probably fit your iPhone 5 or 6 really well, but for those of us with grown up phones (myself having the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active) like a Samsung or iPhone 7 we’re screwed and it’s a total waste of weight and space. I bought the bigger Osprey REV6 and have yet to use it, I’m scared to because the runs I want to use it on are very, very long and if I screw up using this hydro pack I screw myself, ugh!
I recently purchased a Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 3.0 Hydration pack that isn’t even available until the end of the month, hey I’m desperate for hydration solutions man don’t judge me! Anyway, sorry for the rant. So running back with my akward over loaded hydro pack I run down the trail like a master of his domain for several miles until I slam into the last mile and a half of superheated soft trail, yea this sucked. My splits went from mid 8’s (my planned pace) to nearly 10 minutes a mile as I twisted and rolled in and out of the soft crap that had my cussing at the world around me but I was still smiling……
All in all if the payment is 3 miles of crap for an additional 10 miles of incredible heaven I’ll pay it every time. Next weekend the longer runs begin, preparing me for the sick shit I’m throwing myself into this summer, but for the next couple of days short 7 and 8 mile runs will be the business of the day!