So far I have been running in Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands and I have seen and read about trail running in Spain, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland and the United States. I’ve noticed one big difference between Dutch trail running and trail running abroad. Trail running in The Netherlands is running. Trail running abroad is moving forward.
I don’t mean this in a condescending way. I totally understand the difference. The Netherlands is flat. You don’t have a lot of reasons to walk. In Italy I ran the Dolomiti Extreme Trail. Even the top athletes had to walk parts of that race. Some mountains are just too steep to run up to.
There is another reason not to run up every mountain. You will save energy by walking up. Maybe you lose a couple of seconds or even minutes compared to a runner who runs uphill, but you can easily make up for that by running a higher pace on the downhills and the flats.
In the Dolomites I ran the 11 kilometer race. We had to climb 614 meters. Last month I ran the Viking Steam Trail in the center of the Netherlands. 24 kilometers and how many altitude meters did we have? 245. Twice as much distance, but not even half of the altitude meters.
The only state in the Netherlands with something that looks like mountains (hills, but we call them mountains) is Limburg. Sara and I went there in May, so I could train for the Dolomiti Extreme Trail. I ran the Salomon Koning van Spanje trail (King of Spain; the name of a mountain). Nine kilometers. Just 2 less than in the Dolomites. Altitude meters; 270. That’s it. That’s our state with the most mountains.
With that in mind, it’s logical people only run in The Netherlands. As soon as you start walking, they will ask you if everything is okay.
They do stop. At a refreshment point. That is always a nice gathering for a chat. It also has to do with the great refreshments. In my first running life I only did road races. A refreshment stop would offer water, a sports drink, and if you’re lucky bananas and or oranges. Compared to that, the refreshments points at trail races are restaurants.
I’ve seen salted crisps, jelly beans, bananas, oranges, salty biscuits, gingerbread and – my favorite since the Viking Steam Trail – Coca Cola.
I have to admit, walking parts of a race always feels great on my legs. It takes the tension off. Although, walking up a hill in the Dolomites didn’t. But that had another good effect, because although I was struggling walking uphill, I felt like flying on the flats and the downhills.
For me, trail running feels best, when I combine it with some walking. So, to all those who see me walking during a trail run in the Netherlands, I am okay. I am just running in a walking-way.