Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 7, 2013
The idea of running for miles on rock- and root-studded terrain alongside a bunch of fleet-footed, sinewy guys is enough to scare a lot of women away from trail racing.
But a shorter, gentler, all-women’s version of a trail race? That might be fun.
The second season of Trailhead Running’s "Women on the Trail" series kicks off Saturday with the Dirt Trails & Pony Tails 5K on the grounds of Austin Ridge Bible Church near FM 2244 and Cuernavaca Drive.
"Women tend to be very tentative about trail running in general until they experience it," says Susan Farago, head of Trailhead Running, whose motto is "You’re not lost. You’re with us." "Truly, a little confidence goes a long way."
The series started last year and includes three races - one in November, one in January and one in February.
The field is limited to 200 participants, all women. The races are short, and they’re not chip-timed, to encourage a low stress, non-competitive vibe. (But feel free to blow it out - the top three finishers still get awards.) The series is certified by the Council for Responsible Sport, which means it’s gentle to the environment, too.
Farago started the series to encourage women to get moving and to introduce them to the greenbelt in a fun, safe way. Nearly half of last year’s participants had never tried trail running, and about 10 percent weren’t runners at all, but came out to walk the course.
Trailhead Running offers an eight-week "Intro to Trail Running" program three times a year. It’s designed for women who can run 5K (even if it’s really slow) and introduce them to the basics of trail running.
Besides this weekend’s race, the series includes the Bruises & Bandages 5K & 10K at Russell Park on Lake Georgetown on Jan. 18 and the Creepy Crawlies & Critters 5K at YMCA Camp Cypress in Buda on Feb. 22. (I’m planning to do that last one!)
For more information or to register, go to www.trailheadrunning.com.