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Posted By Nathan Athlete & Friend Jason Henrie
I do a final survey of my Nathan VaporWrap hydration pack before I start my run. Energy Gels...check. Water...check. Ultra Runner Podcast queued up on my iPhone...check. Final look at the map of my proposed route...check. Work cloths...check. Lunch...check.
Running to work isn't what most think of as an adventure run. But for me, today it is. Partially because I've got my VaporWrap maxed out with gear triggering my ultra primal instinct. Mostly because after stepping out my front door I will be running 10 miles of national forest single track as my commute to work.
In Flagstaff, Arizona, where we are blessed with hundreds of miles of mountain single track through Pine, Alpine Fir and Aspen studded forests, this kind of commute is extremely accessible. The forest is staring you in the face every time you step out your front door, never more than a short mile or two from any Flagstaff residence, silently calling you to forgo the car, use your feet, and have an adventure.
I run two blocks of pavement and then turn onto a faint unmarked trail entering a canyon. It is early morning and the air is crisp and cool here at 7000 feet of elevation, even on this July day where temperatures will reach the 80's. As my first steps take me through the tall grass and wildflowers of the lush canyon bottom, my feet are instantly soaked with the lingering moisture of last night's epic thundershower. I dodge rocks, listen to the stillness of the morning forest and catch a deer sighting here and there as I soak in the fresh scents of still wet pine.
The weaving canyon comes to an end and I have a choice. Link into the Flagstaff Loop Trail, a dreamy section of single track where I would be sure to run into a few mountain bike commuters also enjoying the morning forest, or cut off trail and take an adventurous route through the open pine forest. I chose adventure, weaving a path through rocky outcrops, open meadows and tall stands of Ponderosa pine, completely off trail.
Far too soon, my blissful forest run ends, when after dropping down the canyon and linking into a short section of gravel urban trail, I suddenly find my feet pounding hard concrete instead of padding soft pine needles and dirt. I take in one last deep breath of pine scent and then charge ahead through a quaint downtown neighborhood bordering the forest, passing the first people I have seen all morning. They are getting in their cars for their commute.
I am immediately hit with a sense of extreme gratitude for having an adventure like this on my way to work. There will be many other days where I will have to get in my car to go to work too. But today, I was lucky enough to put a little running adventure in my commute.
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