Our Trail Running Glue

The author, Noah Cass, is featured in “The Last Time I Heard True Silence” and will be present at the Thursday, September 8 screening of the Trails in Motion Film Festival at the Fremont Theatre in downtown San Luis Obispo as part of the inaugural SLO Ultra weekend of events. To purchase VIP tickets for the pre-screening reception with Noah and other Film Festival guests or for general admission tickets please click here. Proceeds benefit The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo.

My film, The Last Time I Heard True Silence, has been on my mind quite a bit over the past month. Those of you who have seen it, or those who will join us on September 8th, may know a little about it. The film follows my path from active duty in the Marine Corps through my transition to civilian life and the bumps along the road prior to finding my outlet — running.

We all have stories. Some of us share them, some of us do not. This interesting piece for me is when we get together on the trails, we tend to share more. The camaraderie, the common goal, the primal nature of it, and depending on the distance, the hours we spend with total strangers sets the stage for storytelling. There’s no judgment in the woods; what you share is up to you and there is a good chance that you may never share the same space with that person ever again. So we talk.

During my first trail race eight years ago. I found myself in a group of four men, ages ranged from 24 to 40. Something incredible thing happened. Somehow I got the “yellow polka-dot bikini” song stuck in my head. After a few minutes it was clear that I had not kept it in my head as I had thought and the four of us rolled into an aid station serenading the volunteers like a backwoods, off-key quartet. Eventually the group broke down and we spread out, but the joy found in those miles of silliness carried us all to finish where we swore to never repeat the story. Sorry guys!

During my first 50K I was lucky enough to share nearly 20 miles with a husband and wife team that have inspired me since that day to stay active and moving for the rest of my life. The joy and happiness I saw in them from just enjoying the time in the woods led me to forget about the watch and the distances and just enjoy the experience. They shared some race stories, my story of transition came up, and shortly after I shared a few parts of it they suggested I put it into a book or documentary. I think they planted a seed without me even knowing it at the time.

During the 50 Mile race I run in the film, I shared hours with a gentleman from Martha’s Vineyard who taught me about finding balance with family life and running. His son is a little older than mine and I was just starting to figure out the scheduling; his tips have helped. We shared stories from all distances (1 mile to 50 mile races), bonks, thoughts on nutrition, Volkswagens and life in general. Being in the New England region, I hope to share some trails with him again sometime.

In April of this year I toed the line with two incredible guys that I have pulled into the world of trails and ultrarunning. It all started with some early morning trail runs and hill repeats, and we now have just about a year and a half of consistent Thursday morning runs that have shifted from ‘workouts’ to a time to swap stories and set goals individually and as a group.

The trails have provided me with a way to connect with people that nothing else I’ve found allows me / us to do. We share, and make, stories in races, long runs, junk miles and everything in between. These stories are what brings us together — they are our glue.

I’m looking forward to sharing my story with you next month and making new ones!

Visit RaceSLO.com to for upcoming events and to register today.

Established in 2010 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO family of annual events currently includes the SLO Marathon + Half and Family Fitness 5K (Spring), SLO GranFondo (Fall) and SLO Ultra at Wild Cherry Canyon (Fall ).

Come experience the best the California Central Coast has to offer: year-round sunshine, rolling green hills, unspoiled open roads, first class finish lines and more. Come Race SLO: #EnduranceTownUSA!