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On the Run

Enjoying the Mountains by Foot

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A ski coach once told me I needed to work hard to play hard. That was the summer I started running. Any runner will tell you, it’s an addictive sport. Running is even more appealing given the incredible access to trails throughout the Wood River Valley. Extensive paved pathways and single track dirt trails offer an opportunity to explore our mountain community. Running is a great way to stay active, engage with community, and achieve athletic goals. There’s an energizing sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that comes from a good run. And, it’s one of the best ways to stay in shape for skiing.


The well-developed trail system throughout the Wood River Valley offers extensive single track trail and paved path running. Miles of opportunity enliven the running season.

“The number one thing I love about running is running on the trails,” says Ryan Still, a Ketchum-based distance runner. “When I’m out there, I forget I’m even running because it’s so beautiful.”

With incredible mountain views, stretches of alpine wildflowers, and the occasional wildlife spotting, trail runs are less about the clock and more about getting outside. Favorite trails for runners include the Adams Gulch and Fox Creek area trails north of Ketchum, and Trail Creek trails near Sun Valley.

Whether you are just trying to get into shape or seriously training, trail running offers a good workout.

“The best thing people can do (to train for races) is run on the trails,” says Bob Rosso, owner of The Elephant’s Perch store in Ketchum. “The trails do the work for you. It’s a varied workout.”

Running on the soft dirt surface puts less impact on the body. Hills build leg muscle strength, and natural obstacles, like rocks and roots, require that you pick up your feet and have good balance.

For runners who prefer paved pathways, the Blaine County Recreation District maintains the 32-mile Wood River Trail system that connects the towns of Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue.

Runners with a race goal may consider organized training. The Wood River Valley Community YMCA offers pre-race training for half marathon and 5K races. The half marathon training sessions are designed to help runners get ready for the springtime Sun Valley-Ketchum U.S. Half Marathon.

“The 10-week training sessions begin far enough in advance that runners are prepared for the race, but not too far in advance that people get injured or burned out,” says Liz Clark, Wood River YMCA fitness director. She recommends that runners plan ahead for races, allow for active recovery days and don’t overtrain.

“A lot of people will race cold turkey and will get injured,” Clark adds. “The Sun Valley course is tough and as you get tired you lose your running form—that’s when injuries occur. You need to warm up first.”

The Y also holds training for the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 5K Walk/Fun Run held in the fall. This training is designed for people who have never run or may want to get in shape. The training groups center on running, while also focusing on nutrition, stretching consistently and warming up before running.

“The training makes you focus on the little things that will help your overall performance,” says Clark.

Another option for female runners is Team Tiara, a new women’s running group that helps women work towards individual athletic goals. Runners select a goal, such as running a marathon or a half marathon, to help raise funds for the non-profit Girls on the Run youth running program.

“We all have a commonality. We have potential race goals in mind. A number of us run throughout the summer on training runs and then, come fall, we all have our own races to attend,” says Mary Fauth, Team Tiara runner and executive director of Girls on the Run. >>>


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