Welcome to the Rock Creek Roundup, a monthly series featuring trail and running commentary, and a selection of articles, videos, products, and stories I’m into this month. Check out previous Roundups here.


What does that even mean?

I hear people throw around words like adventure and epic on a daily basis. Hell, I do it myself.

But if we’re being real … how often is your (or my) daily run truly an epic adventure. Or even an adventure at all.

Google defines adventure as, “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.”

My go-to trail routes — even long runs — may be exciting, but they’re rarely hazardous and by definition not unusual. So am I wrong to often refer to a run as an adventure?

I don’t think so. And while I may roll my eyes when I see someone label an hour-long outing as something epic, I get it.

This past weekend I joined Andrew, a RCR member from Indiana, for a nearly twelve hour thru-run of the Art Loeb Trail. We started around 5:30am, in the rain and cold, and slowly made our way from the foothills to the mountains.

The rain continued as the sun came up and for nearly five hours, until we took a rest on the summit of Pilot Mountain. Almost as if it knew we had arrived, a huge gust of wind roared up the side of the mountain, pushing the clouds away. It was our first real glimpse of the layers of peaks and valleys that surrounded us.

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Before long the sun came out, views opened, and soggy miles ticked by.

And as I huffed up the many mountains, splashing down the other side, I couldn’t help but smile and be grateful.

Adventure is something we trail runners crave.

Just the thought of it makes hours spent at our desks, in front of a computer, more manageable. And the anticipation of a future adventure will keep us up at night, and wake us up early to train the next morning.

We’re not the do-nothing crowd.

We like mountains. Trails. Uncertainty. And thrill.

And by God, even if our weekly runs aren’t what they write novels about, they’re still another important chapter — no matter how long or short — in our own grand, amazing, beautiful adventure.

An adventure of epic proportions.

What I’m Digging this Month: March, 2017

Protecting Our Public Lands

With proposals to sell off public land and major cuts to the EPA and Department of the Interior, the future of public lands and parks are in question. As a citizen who uses and relies on these protected spaces daily, I feel it’s my duty to stay engaged and involved with their protection. The question then is, what’s the best way to do that?

A group of trail runners found their solution by founding an initiative called Run Wild. Here’s their story.

In other public land news, Former Patagonia CEO donates 1 million acres of parkland to Chile.

Maps: They’re Important (and now free)

I love topo maps. Especially when they’re free.

National Geographic now has a tool that lets you download any 7.5 minute topo in the continental U.S.A., and it’s awesome.

Learn more and start downloading maps here.

And if you’re curious, here’s a map of my home trails.

Goal Setting with 3rd Graders

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Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to an an elementary classroom about lofty goal setting, using my experience with running goals as an example. It was not only an out-of-my-comfort-zone experience (I know very little about interacting with kids unless they’re three months old and birthed by my wife), but also an incredibly inspiring experience.

The kids set goals to become musicians, athletes, judges, and smoothie shop owners, and more importantly, they established actions they can take today to start working towards those goals.

Now it’s time for me to dream big again as well.

Life in a Day by Billy Yang

This was a good month for trail running films, starting with Life in a Day, a film by Billy Yang following four women vying for a Western States 100 win.

A Decade On by Ginger Runner

Then there’s A Decade On, which shares Brian Morrison’s Western States journey and redemption. If you don’t know Brian’s story, it’s fascinating.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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