Trail running is a great alternative to the monotony of running on a treadmill or the excessive pounding that comes with running on concrete or asphalt streets. Something very deeply ingrained in our biology wakes up when we run through forests, over mountains, and across bubbling rivers.
According to health psychologist and Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Dr. Eric Brymer, “There’s a growing body of research on ‘green exercise’ that shows the simple pleasure of connecting to the natural world can put you in an optimal frame of mind and reduce the risk of poor mental health.” With that in (a healthy) mind, here are five winter trail running races suited for a variety of athletes.
The HUFF 50K Trail Run and Relay
Where: Chain O’Lakes State Park, Albion, Indiana
What: 10-Mile and 50K
The Huff 50K Trail Run and Relay is one of the most highly attended ultramarathons in North America. It takes place in Indiana’s beautiful Chain O’Lakes State Park and includes a 3-person 50K relay and a one-loop, 10.8-mile run, as well as the individual 50K ultramarathon distance.
Entry fee for this trail run is $80 per person and, while there’s no opportunity to earn prize money, each finishing participant will earn a custom belt buckle. Overall men’s and women’s winners receive large, engraved granite trophies and plaques are also handed out to top finishers in each division.
Currently, the race organizers cap participation at 800 total entrants, but registration is still open until Wednesday, December 26that midnight. You can register online here. In addition to a great racing atmosphere, the HUFF 50K is famous for incredible post-race foods and treats, especially their selection of warm, hearty soups!
Winchell Cove Trail Run
Where: Millerton Lake, Friant, California
What: 10-Mile and 10K
The Winchell Cove Trail Run is perfectly suited for anyone looking to exploring trail running for the first time. The course has minimal elevation change as it follows a breathtaking route along the shores of Millerton Lake, around Mckenzie Point, and into Winchell Cove.
The single-track trail makes this trail run an ‘out-and-back’ style race. The 10-mile course takes racers further into and around Winchell Cove while the 10K route is walker-friendly. Both races use electronic chips to log racer’s times.
Awards are handed out to the Top 3 Male and Female finishers in the 10k race, as well as Top 3 Overall Male and Female finishers and age groups winners for the 10-mile race. Registration for the 10k costs $40 per person and $45 per person for the 10-mile. Registration can be completed online here.
Frost Eagle Trail Run
Where: Soaring Eagle State Park, Sammamish, Washington
What: 5-Mile and Half Marathon
The Frost Eagle Trail Run takes place in one of the most diverse regional parks on the edge of the flat Sammamish Plateau. Soaring Eagle Regional Park is a designated sanctuary for birds, deer, bobcats, and black bear, but it’s also an ideal location for a meditative trail run. The park encompasses 600 acres of forests and wetlands and hosts 12 miles of walking and running trails.
This trail run weaves through a web-like network of trails that takes you over every little twist and bump of the park. The terrain offers minimal climbing but features a host of roots and rocks jutting out at various angles to keep your mind engaged as you weave through the dense Washington forest.
Entrance fees for the 5-mile race are currently at $29 per person. This price will go up to $35 on January 17th, and you can also register on the day of the event for $40 per person. The half marathon entrance fee is currently $39 per person, but that price will go up to $45 on January 17th. Half marathon runners can also register on the day of the event for $50 per person. Click here to register today!
TMC Sunrise at Old Tucson Trail Run
Where: Tucson, Arizona
What: Men’s and Women’s 4-Mile, Family Friendly 1-Mile
The TMC Sunrise at Old Tucson Cross Country Trail Run is a fast and furious event designed to be family-friendly. The race meanders through the historic ground of Old Tucson Studios and theme park, which is located adjacent to the Tucson Mountains and close to Saguaro National Park West.
The 4-mile race features single-track trails, a “Horse Poop Alley,” dirt roads, washes, and the dusty Old Tucson Main Street. Events include men’s and women’s 4-mile races, as well as a family-friendly 1-miler. Overall and age group winners are awarded gift certificates to The Running Shop and all participants receive a free pre-race breakfast, long sleeve race shirt, and free admittance to Old Tucson Studios and the International Wildlife Museum when they register.
The cost to register for the 4-mile trail run is currently at $30 per person. This cost will go up to $35 per person as of January 1stand will rise again to $40 per person from February 1stthrough race day. The one-mile walk/run currently costs $20 per person. This cost goes up to $25 per person on January 1stand rises again to $30 from February 1stthrough race day. Kids 10 and under are $10, which includes breakfast. Click here to learn more and register today!
March Mudness Run
Where: Washoe State Park, New Washoe City, Nevada
What: 5K and 10K+
The March Mudness Run is the last in a series of 5 annual Be Bold, Run in the Cold winter trail runs that highlight the extensive trail networks around Carson City, Nevada. The race takes place on a series of fire roads and single-track trails that features some steep hills, technical footing in various spots, and magnificent views of the Washoe Valley and surrounding mountains of the Carson Range.
Participants can choose from a 5K or 10K+ distance. The 5K typically winds up being somewhere between 3 and 4 miles. The 10K+ maxes out between 6 and 8 miles. Event organizers set the final distances depending on trail and weather conditions. If it’s nice, the long run will be close to 7 or 8 miles and, if it’s not so nice, it’ll be closer to 6 miles. Both of these distances are open to walkers.
The run starts at 9am and check-in begins at 8am. The cost to register for both distances is the same. It costs $20 per adult per event and $25 if you register on race day. The cost for students between 13 and 25 years old is $10 in advance and $15 on race day. Children 12 and under can register for either distance for free. Registration officially closes on Friday, March 1stat 10pm. Click here to learn more and register today!
As we mentioned above, trail running is a great way to stay in shape, both physically and mentally. In the winter, it’s a great way to get exercise and stay warm! Do you run in winter?