“The river valley belongs to all of us. We often have different ways of using it and we have to figure out a way of working together.”
That’s Todd Savard, and he’s an accomplished ultra runner from Edmonton. He and his wife Sheryl founded the Edmonton Trail Runners, a trail running group that organizes Edmonton’s River Valley Revenge. We’re talking about trail etiquette.
Think about trail etiquette as a voluntary code of conduct telling us what we should and shouldn’t do out on the trail. Running isn’t like golf or tennis — no one signs up because they like following rules — but by demonstrating good etiquette, trail runners can protect our environment and build better relationships with other trail users.
This is important right now because as it gets busier and busier on the trail, the potential for conflict and damage to the environment is increasing. These issues can eventually lead to the kinds of limits on access that mountain bikers and equestrians sometimes face.
Todd says, “I do find... user groups pointing the finger at other user groups and saying, ‘Well it's because of them’.” Through his volunteer work with the Edmonton Trail Runners, Todd often mentors new trail runners and he offers the following advice about etiquette.
1- There’s more to (trail) life than running
Todd says that when runners get obsessed with trail running, they often run the same trails over and over again. It’s important to remember to mix up where you run to help prevent crowding on popular routes.
Todd also thinks runners should try cross-training. It’s healthier for us and it reduces wear-and-tear on the trail, but it also creates empathy for other trail users. By incorporating cycling or hiking into your activities, he says, “You're going to have more of an understanding of how the other user groups look at trails.”