Running in the US has morphed over the years to become not only a sport for the elite but also a sport for the everyday person. It seems that it is every runner’s dream to run a marathon, and many new runners train for a half-marathon so that they can go on to run a full marathon in the future. The running craze has moved from just a short term boom to a way of life.
And as more runners adopt this way of life, many are moving from the road to the trails, looking for the next big challenge. As a runner, what do you do once you have accomplished the marathon distance? Some runners train harder to try to achieve a faster marathon time or win age-group categories. But many everyday runners don’t feel that running faster is what it’s about; instead, they feel it’s the challenge, the feeling they get when they think, “Wow, I finished a marathon.” These runners soon tire of all the road miles. They know they can do it, so they wonder, “What will be my next running accomplishment?” These are the runners who are taking on trail running.
Trail running is such a different beast from road running. It’s much more technical to run on a trail covered with dirt, mud, rocks and roots. Plus there’s the realization that at any time you could fall off a cliff and be injured or die. This might sound like it’s not that much fun, but here is where you are wrong: It is the most fun a runner can have, and it is so much more challenging than any road run. It never fails – no matter how tired, stressed or time-constrained I am, once on the trail I feel like a new person who could run for hours with little effort. The trails just bring on a peacefulness you can’t find on the road.
You wonder where I’m going with this, don’t you? Let me explain. Runner’s World, a magazine I have been reading for 30 years and love to read every month, published a special edition on trail running last month. Since trail running is one of the sports I love the most, I read the edition cover to cover, soaking in every word. When I started reading through “A Guide to America’s Top Trail Running Towns,” I was so excited to get to the St. Louis area, knowing that the Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run (PMETR) would certainly be listed. There was no doubt in my mind that it would be there because it is one of the premier trails races in the Midwest – of course it would be listed.
I know this little editorial may seem self-serving, or maybe it sounds like my pride has been hurt, since I am the Vice President of the Metro Tri Club, which has put this race on for the last 22 years. It could be a little of that, but really think about it. This year will be the 23rd year for the Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run. The run started in 1989 and has never been cancelled due to weather conditions. Its motto is “No Wimps, No Whiners.” It is known as the toughest trail run in the Midwest and has been run in freezing temps (5 degrees Fahrenheit once), rain, ice, snow, wind and mud, the latter of which was the issue in the 2010 race. Mud so deep it sucked off shoes, so slick that runners slid down the descents on their butts. But this is the most fun a runner can have in the middle of December in the Midwest. Entry in this race is so coveted that it sells over 600 slots, fills in less than 10 hours and has a waiting list of hundreds who hope to get a slot. To top it off, the club holds 25 spots for servicemen and women who may be deployed and aren’t able to enter in time to get a slot, and every year we fill many of those slots with those who make it possible for us to have the freedom to run this race.
So, as you read this are you asking yourself the same question I’m pondering: “Why wouldn’t the Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run be mentioned in the trail running edition of Runner’s World?”
Runner’s World mentioned some of the local trail runs, and I have competed in two of the three listed. They are fantastic events and deserve to be on the list, but none has been in existence for as long as PMETR has been, none is discussed in the running circle to the extent that PMETR is. PMETR is the run that everyone wants to do but that many people are afraid to do because they have heard how tough the course is. Yet if you ask any trail runner in the area what the most popular and well-known trail run in the Midwest is, they will say PMETR. They will also tell you that they will get up at midnight when registration opens to register before the race fills. I can tell you this: I was at the CheckPoint Tracker National Adventure race in Moab, Utah, last October, and I saw a person wearing a PMETR wind shirt. Just last month I was at the Land between the Lakes Adventure race in Kentucky and saw multiple people wearing the PMETR vest from two years ago. There have also been sightings by other MTC members in the Seattle-Tacoma airport, Colorado and Utah. This shows how popular the race is.
I think the only thing left for us to do as a trail running society is to lobby for a PMETR cover story in an upcoming edition of Runner’s World. I’m in. Are you? If you agree with me, then go to the Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run to grace the cover of Runner's World Facebook page and like our page. Let’s get a Runner’s World cover for the Pere Marquette Endurance Trail Run.