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SALOMON CITYTRAIL™ - An urban fix for trail junkies

Words: Tori Leckie, www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com | Photos: Kevin Sawyer

Without knowing the exact statistics, I can safely say that trail running has seen a massive upsurge in recent years. Pavement pounders have started to discover the sheer joy of escaping the city streets and are relishing the varied surfaces that lie all around us.

Photo credit: Kevin Sawyer

I suppose in our digitally driven world of ever-increasing connection, trails allow us to escape, to disconnect… a perfect antidote if ever there was one.

I suppose as well, that few of us live immersed in remote nature, nestled in far-flung places. Nor do most of us have epic single-trail tracks right outside our homes, so the solution is simply, and evidently, to bring the trails to us… a trail fix for us urban junkies. Or equally, an urban fix for us trail junkies.

And so it was this past weekend that Salomon hosted the first (I hope of many) CITYTRAIL™ race, right here in Durban. The idea behind CITYTRAIL™ is to make the most of the unique features in any city, turning the concrete jungle into an opportunity to vary our workouts, explore new routes and see things we might not have found by following the beaten path. Terrains can vary from pavement, tar, sand, concrete, wood... anything goes!

Starting at Gateway in Umhlanga, on a very cool winter's morning (relative I know!), there was a feeling of excitement and anticipation as runners registered, readied and reluctantly peeled off layers. As the morning broke and sun emerged, the air felt warmer already and we were off. There were two distances on offer, a short (5-7 km) and long (10-12 km), and I think there were no less than ten different surfaces from bridges, dirt track, grassy gorges, boardwalk, steps (lots of steps!) and even a dash through Gateway mall itself. I remain delighted that the shops weren’t open yet, as I might never have made it through that section. Running past the Salomon Concept Store alone seemed akin to placing a chocolate bar in front of a child and saying they can’t eat it.

Throughout the race I let my mind wonder to so many words I’ve written in the past about discovering the trails that lie right on my doorstep, wherever that may be. I’ve enjoyed countless runs discovering cities on foot, from Bangkok to Budapest, Singapore to Sydney, Lyon to Lijiang. Exploring small backstreets in cities in Asia, in particular, through fish markets and ramshackle stalls and past laughing children looking spotless as they skip to school, can’t fail to leave an unquenchable smile on your face. Similarly, in France, through bijou villages, home to majestic chateaus and endless vines and, of course, through my home town of Edinburgh, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Cosmopolitan yet compact, it is bursting with amazing gothic architecture, gorgeous gardens, history and heritage on every street corner.

Photo credit: Kevin Sawyer

It led me to thinking about the world as we know it, today. You see, on one hand, all four corners are so easy and accessible to reach via a global network of 24/7 airlines and we can barely go to another country without meeting someone whose path we’ve crossed… whoever said six degrees of separation should have said three… Yet on the other hand, how awesome is it that cities haven’t diluted their individual appeal. They continue to play host to no end of unique characteristics. No city is the same and each has its own beauty spots and scars, colours and cultures. And this, I guess, is why initiatives like the Salomon CITYTRAIL™ exist. They bring to us a fun, organised and collaborative opportunity to discover these places, amongst like-minded runners, with the backdrop of a brand that has led the way in sharing the love for lacing up our shoes and seeking adventure and challenge.

Hanging around at the end, I saw dozens of runners cross the finish line all smiles. And I wondered how many participants have downloaded the Salomon CITYTRAIL™ app, which allows you to literally choose your city, explore new paths and even track and share your runs. It’s awesome and I’ve found myself plotting and planning new adventures already. Where next, I wonder…

More information
For more information about the CITYTRAIL™ races, visit www.salomonrunning.com