Runners have strong opinions, especially when it comes to gear and shoes. At Trail Roots, we love a good survey and asked our group of over 100 active trail runners what their favorites of 2021 were. From trails to post-run breakfast, here are our top six.
Slaughter Creek Nature Preserve
Austin has a plethora of beautiful trails intertwining throughout the city so you don’t have to travel far to get on the trail and into nature. Built on limestone as part of the Texas Hill Country, Austin has a variety of terrain and elevation, giving trail runners options for different levels of difficulty. Our top pick for the best trail for beginners is Slaughter Creek Nature Preserve, located southwest of the city. This peaceful and relatively low-trafficked trail is slightly rocky, but mostly flat, offering both wide, open spaces and single-track running through the forest. Deer and wildflowers are abundant here, and the trails are welcoming to runners, hikers and mountain bikers. But before you grab your shoes and head out, check their Facebook page to see if the trail is open. Since the area is a well-kept preserve and is where some of our drinking water funnels from, the trail closes when it rains and reopens when it’s dry. Also, for this reason, dogs are not allowed. Be sure to read the signs on which direction to take on the trail and when to move your car. We love that this place is carefully protected – it truly is a special place to run.
We know that finding the perfect trail running shoe is highly personal and that the best bet is to get properly fitted at one of our local running stores, but upon surveying the group, Altra came out on top. What makes Altra stand out is its well-known FootShape™ toe box, which allows the toes to spread naturally while keeping the big toe straight, promoting better stability and form. They are also the first shoe company to introduce an entire line of truly female specific shoes. With a variety of options and colors, there is a shoe for every foot. HOKA came in a close second.
Christmas is just around the corner and one of our favorite activities is doing a group run through Hyde Park to see the decked-out houses. This neighborhood goes all out and will definitely leave you in the holiday spirit. The lights are between Guadalupe and Home Street on 37th. Cars typically get backed up on this street, inching by to get a glimpse of the lights so running may be the best way to experience this stunning Christmas light display.
You can start here:
507 W. 37th St.
Austin, TX, TX 78705
It’s no secret that runners love tacos, especially as a staple post-run breakfast treat. After spending the early morning hours on the trail, nothing tastes better than a breakfast taco (or two) and coffee. There are many delicious options when it comes to tacos in Austin, but our favorite is Tacodeli. With multiple locations around the city, there is never one too far from a trailhead, and most Saturday mornings, you can find a group of sweaty runners crowded outside the picnic tables refueling their calorie intake.
“Born to Run”
This is another debatable topic, but few running-obsessed people haven’t read “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen?” written by Christopher McDougall, a former foreign correspondent for the Associated Press and author. His passion for exploring human potential led him to write one of the greatest running books of all time. The book centers around the Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican tribe known for their feats of long-distance running. This book also sparked the barefoot running movement circa 2009. Whether you prefer running in sandals or highly technical running shoes, this inspiring read will motivate you to get out the door and explore your most basic human instinct: running.
What to get the runner in your life this holiday season can lead you down a never-ending Amazon search for gadgets and gear. When we polled our runners, a GPS watch won by a landslide. But before you go out and grab the first watch you see, know that runners are very particular on what functions they need on their watch. From an extra-long battery life for those 24-hour ultras to being able to flip through stats while on a run to make sure they hit their splits, a watch is an extension of a runner’s arm. Brands are a personal preference, and you should consult the runner in your life before dropping a few hundred dollars on the perfect watch, but know that they will be forever grateful for the gift. Some other good ideas are race entries, gift cards and socks!
About the Author
Amy Willis moved to Austin in 2018 and in search of community and friendships, joined Trail Roots, a local trail running community, as a runner looking to reach some big goals. Since then, she has raced several ultras and attempted two 100 milers. Her passion for the group grew, and she now works alongside the owner as a marketing and operations professional. She also designs for the brand and helps maintain a vibrant community of kind and wonderful runners.