By Victoria Parent (Guest Blogger)
In honor of National Running Day we ask, “Why running?”
That’s a question I’ve tried to answer since my freshman year of high school. It’s a question that follows the running community with each step of every mile; it’s a question that can’t be answered unless experienced.
FLASHBACK TO 2013: I never believed running would take me anywhere. When I started running track my freshman year of high school, I was terrible, slow, and told I didn’t have the type of body to be a runner. That’s why I was surprised when my coach patted me on the back and said, “Good job kid. Can’t wait to see you break six minutes in the mile!” Six minutes? Was he crazy? Soon I learned that my coaches and most other runners are optimists. Who else would voluntarily, and mercilessly I might add, run for hours every day, in any type of weather for fun? Two years after that conversation with my coach, I won my first race in the mile with a time of 5:35. Today, I’m a half-marathoner, a Virginia All State athlete in the Women’s 5k, and a collegiate runner.
6.) Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
This is as close to sublime as you’ll get. A 3,100 acre park just outside Seattle that features 36 miles of trails that cover the “Issaquah Alps”, towering waterfalls (like Coal Creek Falls), creeks, and glacial boulders. You’ll also pass by historic mine shafts and Cold War missile silos (just beware roaming bobcats and black bears)
5.) Ice Age National Scenic Trail
This 1,200 mile route across Wisconsin isn’t fully completed yet, but there are 600 miles of lush forests, ancient prairies and virtually every kind of wetland you can imagine. Everything you pass by was created during the last Ice Age’s glacial melt.
4.) Kalalau Trail
This is the only way to access Kauai’s breathtaking Na Pali Coast by land. It’s an 11 mile trail that begins at Ha’ena State Park and crosses five valleys, sea cliffs, waterfalls and white sand beaches. There’s even some ancient Hawaiian ruins along the route.
3.) Poison Spider Mesa
Incredible views of jagged rock and cracked Navajo Sandstone make the slickrock trails of Poison Spider Mesa a runner’s paradise.
2.) The Long Trail
Vermont’s Long Trail is believed to be the oldest long-distance trail in America. It was built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930. It’s a 273 mile route that runs from Northern Massachusetts, through Vermont all the way to the Canadian border, along the Greek Mountains. 32-year old Pennsylvania carpenter Jonathan Basham ran the trail in 4 1/2 days back in 2009.
1.) Palo Duro Canyon State Park
It’s no wonder the Palo Duro Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of Texas, it’s 120 miles long, 20 miles wild and considered the second largest U.S. canyon. Every October there are races along the Spicer & Lowry Trail.
In an apathetic world, running rebels against every force that tries to restrict us. It requires intrinsic motivation, commitment, and teaches discipline— important qualities that are disappearing in our world. The incredible community, the thrill of finishing a race, and the constant drive to be better than who I was yesterday is why I run. I never believed running would take me anywhere; now, now I believe running can take me anywhere.
About: Victoria Parent, recent graduate from Courtland High School in Spotsylvania, Virginia. She will be studying at the University of Mary Washington in the fall where she will also be running cross country and track and field.
Twitter & Instagram: @viccckpea
Coal Creek Falls: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Coal_Creek_Falls_04067.JPG
Ice Age Trail: http://therunfactory.com/tag/adventure-run/
All other Photos: Shutterstock
Featured: Victoria Parent