Estes Park is about to become the center of the trail running world -- at least for a few days. The 2nd annual Trail Running Conference is set to run (pun intended) October 9 - 12. This unique event brings together all aspects of the trail running community: runners, race directors, manufacturers, sponsors and running groups. As the sport continues to grow, event director Terry Chiplin is driven to make the experience of trail running rewarding for runners of all levels, from casual joggers to ultramarathoners.
“Last year’s event was a success and has helped generate a lot of enthusiasm for this year’s conference,” says Chiplin. Originally from England, Chiplin is an accomplished runner and now calls Estes Park home. The energy in his voice -- along with his charming British accent -- captures the sheer love of the sport that is bringing so many people together. “This year’s event has something for everyone. We have a special session for race directors to start off on the 9th followed by two days of speakers, films and of course, local trail runs.”
The first day of the conference focuses on race development for trail race directors and includes strategies to gain sponsors, course layouts, permits and logistics -- all the hard work that goes into making race day a successful event. As this is a somewhat niche aspect of the conference, it is being held on Thursday the 9th.
Friday through Sunday opens the conference to the broader trail running community. Each day begins with an unofficial trail run on some of the best local paths. “We liked the idea of a group run to start each day to remind us why we are here. That and Estes Park has some of the most gorgeous trails around,” says Chiplin.
Workshops and speakers on Friday and Saturday cover topics such as running shoe technology and innovation, trail maintenance, running and spirituality, proper training and developing community running groups. Saturday’s agenda mixes in several presentations on running technique such as running downhill, running uphill and effective training to prevent injury.
“These clinics and workshops are what really makes this conference worthwhile for runners,” explains Chiplin. “We have brought together experts from around the world to help make this event the best of its kind.”
After the conference events on Friday, the Trail Running Film Festival will offer evening entertainment and two compelling movies: Trail Climbs Sharply, a documentary that follows three runners through the US Mountain Running Series and MUT Runner, a film about the evolution of ultra trail running events. Both films will have a Q&A sessions afterwards with the films’ producers.
No trail running event would be complete without an actual race. The 5.8-mile Estes Ascent Trail Race will take place on the Sunday, October 12th at 10 am. Located in some of the most beautiful terrain in Colorado, the race course gains 1,800 ft. of elevation and is presented by the Estes Park Running Club.
Fees to attend the 2014 Trail Running Conference are affordable: $25 for a single day or $45 for both Friday and Saturday. The Estes Trail Ascent run on Sunday is a separate event that costs $40 (or $45 on race day).
“Our goal is to continue to build awareness and excitement in the trail running community,” says Chiplin. Given the success of last year’s event and the excellent speakers, workshops and clinics at this year’s conference, trail running’s future is looking up.