By Hanson Lee, Running Coordinator at SHOES-n-FEET
Sometimes it takes a trailhead or a mountain to hook you on an adventure. Trail running is, and always has been, a great way to go out and explore the environment of the Pacific Northwest. Running companies like Northwest Trail Runs have worked hard to make their mark on Washington’s running scene. SHOES-n-FEET's Hanson Lee sat down for a chat with Northwest Trail Runs founder Eric Bone to get the story.
Bone started Northwest Trail Runs in 2006. Bone hosted only two runs that first year, in October at Soaring Eagle Park and in December at Squak Mountain State Park, and each of those runs had just 27 runners. Now Northwest Trail Runs puts on roughly 35 events in a year, serving thousands of runners and covering the vastness and beauty of Washington’s renowned Puget Sound area. With trail run distances varying anywhere from 4K to 50K, some of the company’s events include the Lake Hills 50K and co-promoting the Northwest Winter Challenge, both of which are co-hosted by SHOES-n-FEET.
For Bone, his passion for trail running is aimed towards his love for the outdoors, which he says is all about exploring new settings and taking on nature in its rawest form.
A graduate of the University of Washington, Bone spent his college years majoring in geography and, as a side hobby that often consumed more of his time than studying, training hard to improve his running and navigation skills to compete in the sport of orienteering. As a geography major, Bone loved the outdoors, and the idea of taking on trailheads and off-road detours with spontaneous thrills around every corner was where it was at.
“It’s rejuvenating and nurturing to one’s spirit to be out in a natural setting,” Bone said. “There’s so much to explore and to discover, and I find that really exciting.”
In the early 2000s, Bone would make trips to San Francisco to visit his partner Terry Farrah. It was on a trail run with Farrah in October 2002 that the two came up with the idea of putting on a citywide urban orienteering event in Seattle. The 2003 Seattle Night & Day Challenge was enough of a success that Bone and Farrah decided to incorporate MerGeo—short for Meridian Geographics—together in 2004 to put on orienteering events for the public and for corporate team building events.
During times in the Bay Area, Bone noted the many trail running events available in the area and would run trail races organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. “There were two or three companies that were putting on a full schedule of races,” Bone said. “I thought, this is something that we need [in the Pacific Northwest].”
Witnessing the success of these trail running companies and inspired by the model of offering a diversity of distances at each event, Bone began working on a trail running series of his own and created Northwest Trail Runs in 2006.
“One thing we really want to do is to provide a safe setting for people who want to try trail running,” Bone said. “I’m excited about seeing new people discover trail running.”
SHOES-n-FEET owner Chris Bentvelzen stands alongside Northwest Trail Runs company owner Eric Bone during Northwest Trail Runs recent Middle Fork 50K.
To Bone, offering shorter trail runs that were accessible to people of all shapes and sizes was a key part of the Northwest Trail Runs mission. “At the time, the trail running scene in the Seattle area was mostly an ultra scene,” Bone said. “If you wanted to race shorter distances on trails, you had the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series and not much else."
Now at 13 years old, Northwest Trail Runs continues to put its stamp on the region’s trail running community with newly implemented events, such as the Moran Constitutional Relay. Shoes-n-Feet is a proud sponsor of what the group has been able to achieve over the years and both companies look forward to contributing to the trail running community for years to come.
“We’re always happy to promote stuff that Shoes-n-Feet is doing, and I feel like SHOES-n-FEET has done the same for us,” Bone said. “It’s a good reciprocal relationship where we’re all trying to promote running.”
Find out more about Northwest Trail Runs on their website at http://nwtrailruns.com