Being new to trail racing this year (I did two) I have considered the impact theses races have on the environment. From spooked animals, to packed ground, and to gel and water cups blowing into areas where they lay forgotten. Most would say trail racing and nature go hand in hand.
But are we really running in nature? I live by a nature preserve and this fall most of the trails were closed so that snow making machines for the cross-country skiers could be installed. Does nature = snow making machines or does preserve = develop?
So what kind of impact does a trail race have on the environment? Very little. The environment was already impacted the day man decided to develop the area. We may have left more trees than the neighborhood filled with houses that all look the same, we may not have laid concrete throughout every last section, we may not see people loitering at all hours but take a walk in an undeveloped forest and then a walk in a developed park preserve and you will quickly see the difference.
So what do I say? Build it and let us run. The trails are there so let us use them but we must be mindful of how we treat these current trails and consider, really consider, how we develop future land for recreational use. Just because it is there doesn’t mean it needs to be for all.