Friday, May 10, 2013

Brazen "Trail" Running on The Embarcadero

I have to start by saying I like my lunch runs along the Embarcadero. However, as I have stated before, the caliber of runners that run at lunch, well can be intimidating.   But to be honest, after slogging 5 plus pavement miles, I really long for the trail.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have one of the most fabulous backdrops for my lunch time runs, with the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge off in the distance.  I even mix it up with runs through Fisherman’s Wharf and through Fort Mason, with Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, and Marin in the distance.

But what always gives me that added kick is when I see someone coming up towards me in a Brazen Racing shirt.  Unlike runners with other race shirts, there is always a sense of pride and comrade in identifying yourself as a Brazen runner.  They are always looking for ways to make what is basically a flat concrete trail just a little bit harder, jumping up cement embankments or the occasional stair. While other runners may be in their own world or engaged talking with their lunch time running group, a Brazen runner always will acknowledge each other with a nod or a thumbs up.  
Photo: Brazen Racing

In fact I get the biggest kick when a Brazen runner is with his lunchtime group, gives the thumbs up and watch the rest in the group as they wonder how this person knows you.  Of course he probably doesn’t, but we share the common experience of being part of the “Brazen Family” and Bay Area Trail Community.
Keep in mind, the trail running community in the Bay Area is huge.  And there are plenty of trail racing companies around:  Inside Trails has a faithful following as does Coastal.  And we have some pretty awesome trails in Marin, the Peninsula, and the South and East Bay.  
What is interesting when you run the Embarcadero, though, is very few of the other companies shirts, less even the marque trail and ultra-marathon shirts – like North Face 50, Miwok 100K, Dick Collins 50M, or Skyline to the Sea.

It could be that Brazen has really catered to the group of trail runners that are looking for a challenge in the 5K to half-marathon range, not to mention a couple of marathons, a 6 and 12 hour timed event, and an awesome 50K on Mt. Diablo. 

Photo: Brazen Racing
The race directors, Sam and Jasmin, have awesome attention to detail to make the running experience the tops.  Every runner gets a shirt and a medal.  For some traditional trail runners, the added bling may be too much, but it just further adds to the loyalty to their events for most.  Add that there are a lot of regulars to their events (which are selling out on a more regular basis) have created a community within the Bay Area trail running community.  Even when we may meet up at other company’s events, we sit around and talk about our races back at Brazen.

So yea, I miss the trails every time I am putting in miles during lunch.  But that wink, nod, or thumbs up during those runs definitely make, at least for the moment, feel like I am on those trails giving and receiving encouragement from the fellow runners at a Brazen event.  I then pick up my pace and I am good for a few more miles.

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