By Olivia Dwyer
As any regular mountain biker knows, trail runners have increased steadily since the early 2000s. In the last three years alone, trail running increased 10.7 percent. “I’m seeing a significant crossover from road running to trail running,” says Bob Crowley, founder of New England’s Trail Animals Running Club. “Trails are beautiful, accessible, and better for the body.”
Responding to that growing market, this June, the Eleven Salomon Running Experience debuts in Crested Butte, Colorado. There, six athletes sponsored by the mountain brand will coach guests in a luxury property owned and operated by the hospitality group The Eleven Experience. The inspiration? Salomon’s Advanced Week, a yearly athlete summit where trail running pros talk gear, swap training tips, and explore new trails.
“At Advanced Week, I’d rub elbows with the best runners in the world in beautiful places like France or Greece,” says Salomon team manager and trail runner Adam Chase. “I thought: How do we bring this idea to the U.S.? Voilà.”
Runners have long dedicated vacation days to improved performance. And running camps are nothing new—Vermont’s Craftsbury Outdoor Center has been offering them for 40 years. What’s different about this event is how customizable it is. Meaning it’s not all about hammering out miles. That, and it’s pretty deluxe.
At Salomon/Eleven, you can swap a run for Class III rapids on the Taylor River or mountain bike the classic 401 Trail. At Scarp Ridge Lodge—where you bunk down—a chef prepares meals, a Finnish sauna soothes trail fatigue, and a downtown locale puts you blocks from a rum distillery. The itinerary also includes gait analysis, workshops on climbing and descending off-road, and time with a sports psychologist and a nutritionist. “If you’re a gluten-intolerant vegan,” says Chase, “we can answer your specific questions.”
“We’re hopeful it’s the start of a series we can bring around the world,” says Jake Jones, managing director of the Eleven Experience. “We have other properties near amazing trails in France and Iceland.”
If You Go: With a deep coaching roster, Chase can customize outings for all abilities. June 8–12; $3,410; salomonelevenrunningexperience.com
More off-road adventures for summer 2016:
P.A.C.E. Mountain Camps | Rossland, BC
When he’s not coaching trail clinics in the Okanagan Valley or competing in European alpine stage races, Rene Unser trains in the mountainous BC Interior. Her P.A.C.E. camps are designed for runners with an endurance base. The Rossland session ends with a 36-kilometer point-to-point run of the 7 Summits Trail, an outing that links alpine ridges and singletrack above a Canadian mining town.
If You Go: Unser bills Rossland as an intro to ultras or stage races for athletes who average 50 kilometers per week. Expect to run between 15 to 30 kilometers each day. Dinners and lodging at Red Mountain Resort’s Slalom Creek condos are included. June 30–July 3; from $690; pacesportsfitness.com
Hut Run Hut | Aspen to Vail, CO
As a teenager, Rickey Gates cut backcountry trails and stocked firewood at the 10th Mountain Division Huts. Now, he leads high country tours that link six of the remote huts from Aspen to Vail. Runners carry essentials; guides schlep duffels; chefs handle meals—think Rocky Mountain beef cooked over an open fire. Ultrarunner Scott Jurek, author of the bestseller Eat & Run, joins the July trip.
If You Go: There’s no vetting process. “Last year we had everyone from a college kid who ran a 15-minute 5K to four-hour marathoners,” says Gates. “We maintain a single pace and move as a pack.” A typical day? Up to 12 hours and 4,000 vertical feet. Roughly 30 percent of the route is off-trail. July 18–23, August 1–6, and September 19–24; $2,095; hutrunhut.com
Cool Impossible | Jackson, WY
Lift-serviced running? Yes, it’s a thing. Eric Orton, known for coaching Born to Run author Chris McDougall, has teamed up with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to give runners an alpine fix. The outings are typically less than five miles, or two hours. “What’s unique is our access to unbelievable terrain,” says Orton. That terrain acts as training tool: a rocky section leads to cadence drills; buff singletrack sets up hill repeats.
If You Go: Orton leads morning and afternoon runs on three consecutive days, plus two group meals and a Q&A session. The rest is DIY. Lodging options range from ski hostel to the Four Seasons; the resort village offers everything from mountain bike rentals to spicy papaya salad at Teton Thai. July 27-30; $599; runningwitheric.com
Craftsbury Running Camps | Craftsbury, VT
A training hub for endurance athletes since 1976, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center offers nine running camps from May to September. Follow dirt roads past red barns and rolling farmland to explore a 40-kilometer network of Nordic ski trails and singletrack. Plus, you’ll eat meals crafted from local ingredients and participate in Scrabble showdowns. “There’s no cell service,” says Camp Director Lynn Jennings. “It helps you let go.”
If You Go: Group runs go out twice daily. Coaches lead afternoon workouts that mix fartlek runs, strength and conditioning, and track sessions. “If you can run three to five miles without stopping, you’re ready,” says Jennings.
From $494/3 days; craftsbury.com