This was by far my best ultra-running experience, but instead of dwelling on the epic details, I offer five quasi-objective reasons to consider signing up for the Trilogy next year:
First, the quality of the courses is outstanding. You will be on different trails every day, and their diversity is remarkable: fast and smooth, technical and rocky, steep climbs, suicidal descents, it’s all there in generous amounts. Oh, and did I mention the sunrise at the top of Spruce Knob?
Second, you will probably learn something about yourself during these three days. Race directors Dan Lehmann and Adam Casseday will keep you honest in your training – I know this from experience after running three races organized by either or both of them this summer. If you are anything like me, you will hit at least one major climb and discover that you have nothing left. But then you will have to deal with that anyway (I did feel like crying and yelling “It’s not fair!” at one point).
Third, the volunteers at the aid stations rock! There will be at least a couple of experienced runners in each aid station, and they will quickly figure out exactly what you need. Sometimes they’ll cheer you up and break the solitude, sometimes they’ll kick you out in twenty seconds and send you chasing someone you have long given up on catching.
Fourth, the atmosphere at The Mountain Institute (TMI) is unique and very relaxing, the food is excellent, and you even have the option of sleeping in a comfortable bed (ask about the dorms). The people at TMI work extremely hard and everything happens with machine-like punctuality. I was curious to see when they would finally stop running around one night. It was after 1 am …
Finally, multi-stage racing is a different (and very interesting) animal. The back-to-back long runs I did to prepare for the Trilogy may have been the biggest personal discovery I have made as a runner. I am completely clueless about exercise physiology, so the quality of the second-day long runs came as a big surprise and still feels like magic. Try it sometime!