Why you should Race in the Salomon Autumn Trail Series
My first trail race was one of the Salomon Autumn Trail Series races, and the series holds a special place in my heart. It’s a great introduction to trail running for anyone who might be a curious, and it’s also a good environment for an experienced trail runner to test their speed on a fast, not-super-technical course.
I had a chance to chat with Sam Rush, the current race director and founder of Mountain Goat Running about the series and his trail running life.
About the Salomon Autumn Trail Series
Sam explained that the series was started as a way to raise money for local cross-country skiers, but has become one of the favorite trail racing events of the season. There are 4 races in the series, usually every other Wednesday in September and October.
This year’s races are
- September 3rd
- September 17th
- October 1st
- October 15th
You don’t have to do all 4 races; you can do as many or as few as you’d like, although you do get a discount for signing up for all 4.
Part of the fun of the series is the friendly competition that happens - you get points based on your placement in each race, based upon gender. The points are then added up at the end of the series to determine final standings and series awards. For any race missed, you are awarded zero points.
Salomon Autumn Trail Series Course Overview
Sam said the course will be different than years’ past. Due the construction of new ski trails at Hyland Park, and the growth of the race, he’s had to change the start and finish area. He’s responded to feedback from runners about varying the course.
This year, there will be a September course, and an October course. He describes the courses:
The September courses are roughly 4 miles. It covers the northern section of Hyland Lake Park from Jan’s Place up to the Nature Center looping around the Prairie Loop and wood chip trail loops. The terrain is loose gravel, grass, dirt and wood chip trails. These are very wide trails that allow for runners to go in either direction and for runners of all running levels and trail experience.
The October courses are roughly 5.5k. They cover the southern section of Hyland Lake Park from Jan’s Place. It is a lollipop with the handle on the side. This course is made up of grass, dirt and wood chip trails. It is roughly the same course as last year, just a different start and finish area.
Sam said that his favorite thing about the series is “seeing runners of all levels and trail experiences cross the finish line with giant smiles on their faces. I love sharing the joy of running especially trail running.”
At this year’s first race on September 3rd, Sam and the Salomon Autumn Trail Series will be sharing their love of trail running with an ever wider audience, as Carrie Tollefson is set to film her first-ever trail episode for C Tolle Run, her weekly webshow about running and fitness.
The trail episode is set to air on Wednesday, September 17th, and Sam hopes to have a showing at race #2 (also on Wednesday, September 17th).
About the Race Director, Sam Rush
Sam’s background in running and trail running shines through in his events. He started trail running when he was living in Rockford, Illinois. His coach at the time would take him into a nearby state park for long runs and weekly workouts. He said, “The park was very hilly and had a lot of single-track trails, which gave me the feeling of running faster than I actually was running.”
He started Mountain Goat Running in 2012, after he had spent that year injured and unable to run. He would not let his injury deter him from being involved with the running community, so he volunteered at various events, helped a friend co-direct a half-marathon, and gained experience in race timing. Mountain Goat Running has expanded to include media coverage for many events on all terrains.
Knowing Sam mostly from the trail world, and still noodling the idea of running an ultra within the next year or so, I asked him what some of his favorite races were, ultra and non-ultra. He cited the Ice Age Trail 50K in Wisconsin as his favorite ultra. He said it has “a good combination of single track and wide ski trails on both dirt and grass, and enough hills to keep one from getting bored on flat terrain.”
Sam gave the Pikes Peak Marathon as his favorite non-ultra trail race. “The elevation gain is around 7,800 ft with a peak of 14,115ft. It kicks my butt. It is well organized with great volunteers and medical personnel.” Closer to home, Sam enjoys running at Hyland, Lebanon Hills, Afton and the Hixon Forest near La Crosse, WI.
When not running or race directing, Sam has a variety of non-running-related interests. He likes to travel, read and watch movies, from silent Charlie Chaplin films to the latest blockbuster.
Join the Salomon Autumn Trail Series!
The course is a fun and challenging run through Hyland Lake Park Reserve with post-race adult beverages, beverages provided by Dyna Moo chocolate milk, tacos from Rusty Taco and swag from Salomon, FITS Socks, Seven Sundays Muesli, and Mill City Running. Additional sponsors include C Tolle Run and Steve Smillie - Edina Realty.
The Salomon Autumn Trail Series is a 4-race series of approximately 5k for every runner: those new to running and trails, veteran road runners, and the ultra-marathoner.