By John Storkamp RD
In 2016 the Afton Trail Run was fortunate enough to win the bid for both the USATF Minnesota Trail and Ultra Championship races. While both the 25KM and 50KM have been the respective championships in the past, this was the first time we had the opportunity to host both on the same year and the competition did not disappoint. While the Afton Trail Run and Rocksteady Running’s primary goal is to foster participation and community we also seek to foster competition and support elite level performers and performances. If the “West is the best” and the “East is a beast” then what is Minnesota? Too often overlooked in far too many areas; technology, arts, entertainment and so on – one thing that Minnesota is well known for is competitive running, the concentration and opportunities for high level running in our area is second to very, very few. The community in general is strong, there are tons of quality events, we have outstanding access to great running roads, paths and trails and the caliber of high level training and racing is supported through the USATF-Minnesota Team Circuit and elite development squads like Team USA Minnesota – both of which are beacons on the national running scene. For years the Afton 25KM has been where the local elite would go to exercise their trail demons – attracting top talent throughout the years who sneak away from hammering the competition on the road circuit just long enough to dish out some pain at one of the most iconic and challenging trail races in the country. This year was no exception for high level competition in both the 25KM and the 50KM but more overtly than ever, the “fasties” are signing up and shouting it from the rooftops if not making the switch to being bonafied “trail-runners”. Generally speaking the thing that makes Trail and Ultraurnning great is the community while everyone from he elites to the recreational compete side by side and participation in general is celebrated – we would see nothing changed but taking a step back to recognize and celebrate a smaller segment of the sport – the elite level racers that take the top 10 spots or so should certainly be done from time to time. We encourage you to follow the results links below and check out who participated and placed in this years competition – for those in the know, you will see names that are dominate in the local and national scene – for those of you that are not take the time to Google any of the top few names and it will start to come clear. Last Saturday we were in the presence of some the most gifted athletes in the nation and you may not have realized because as a bonus most carry themselves with the laid back and humble trail / ultra mentality that the rest of us not quite as speedy mortals have. We celebrate all performances, that is why we love this sport but the USATF Minnesota Trail and Ultra Championship serves to recognize another facet of our sport and the Afton Trail Run is honored to be a part of that. For those aspiring “fasties” we encourage you to train hard in the coming year, JOIN USATF and participate in next years trail and ultra championship races wherever they are held!