ChiRunning, ChiWalking and the Tri Trail Challenge
Last Sunday, I had the good fortune of running in a three part race in Eugene, Oregon called the Tri Trail Challenge. This unique model of a multi stage running race includes three phases, a 7K, a 1K and a 3K, with a short break after the first two stages while results are tabulated and posted. In each phase, runners receive points based upon their overall placing and their age group placing thereby providing feedback about their position in the overall race as it unfolds. The total results and “finish” are not based upon total time but upon position points. Competition within age groups can be very interesting as the race unfolds.
What makes the race interesting, aside from having three parts to it, is the contrast that exists between these three individual runs and the challenges that result. And that’s where ChiRunning and ChiWalking come in, big time! As I ran the first half of the winding uphill 7K, I was doing quite well – playing with usual ChiRunning uphill techniqes and looking forward to the downhill that was to follow. On the downhill, I focused on my lower body, working with the force of the trail coming at me by instituting more pelvic rotation while enjoying gravity’s helping hand as I increased my speed little by little and crossed the finish line solidly in second place in my age group and feeling good. Little did I know what awaited me in part two of this novel race.
The next phase was described as “an uphill 1K, time trial” – what was this, the Tour de France!? Well, yes, I soon found out that it was much like a difficult climb in the mountains as I geared down, switched to the ChiWalking technique and tried to will myself up a very, very steep, dirt fire trail. With each competitor starting individually at 15 second intervals, I couldn’t be sure how I was doing relative to my age group competitors but I could see that I was gaining on a younger man who was trying to run, or walk when he had to (although inefficiently, I noted), up this monster steep hill. Thank goodness for my training and prior experience ChiWalking such hills ; my upper body form focus with quick and short step turnover were keys to my making it to the top in one piece, with a respectable time (7:33) and ready for whatever the race organizers had in store for part three of this unique trail race.
After reviewing the results of parts one and two, off we went, 40 strong, headed out on a LEVEL 3K bark path (one of Eugene’s many such running paths originally developed to honor famous local running legend, the late Steve Prefontaine). I scannned the group looking for my other two age group competitors knowing that I stood second at that time and wanting to be sure I didn’t drop to third if I tried too hard to catch the first place individual. Into second ChiRunning gear I went, adding a little lean to my starting line first gear and hoping that I could soon move into a steady third gear for the majority of the run. I soon realized that I was not going to catch the first place runner ahead of me so I zoned in on a younger runner just ahead whom I did think I could catch – having a goal like that sometimes helps keep me focused – and sure enough, it wasn’t long before I passed him by having found my comfortable, level-ground running pace. A nice, smooth and efficient running form with relaxed lower legs, a comfortable lean with mid-foot landing that could have kept me going for many miles – and with no concerns about being caught by the third place competitior behind me.
And that was it. The combined results were tallied. Everyone was thrilled to have met the challenge of the Tri Trails and age group awards to almost everyone helped make our day. A unique and special model of a running race, a great training experience and a terrific opportunity to apply a wide range of the principles of the ChiRunning technique and ChiWalking technique, all in the same race. Keep your eyes open for such an event. It’s well worth the effort – and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the journey.