As you know, a few months ago, certain businesses were deemed “essential” and others “non-essential.” This led me down a very unwanted, but in the end, a very cool path.
My wife and I have lived in the Austin area and owned Tejas Trails for well over five years now. I have loved almost every minute of it. Yes, I said ‘almost’ — creating and producing trail running events can completely work you over, just as the 100-600 mile races I’ve competed in can. I’ve had the honor of hosting thousands of people at our trail runs throughout each year. I get to create and organize running races that are exciting, peaceful, profoundly challenging, and in some of the most beautiful locations with some of the most genuine people walking this planet!
I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do something I’m so passionate about. I know that’s a gift not everyone gets to enjoy. During all this time of reflection, I’ve been further wondering about the idea of whether or not Tejas Trails (and other race production companies) are essential; and if so, why the specific types of races we create are especially important to society during this time?
I obviously quickly understood that we’re not essential in the sense of offering products that allow you to eat, like a grocery store, or fuel up your vehicle, like a gas station, or have a safe shelter, like a hardware store, or heal people’s bodies like a doctor. But I wanted to sort out if we are ‘essential’ to people. To their well-being? What are we offering to our community exactly, and is it important?
As I pondered on our small business, I of course started contemplating what exactly is ‘essential’ to me. For many of us, many things that were once important are now…well…less important since the pandemic. I realized what it comes down to is that what I need in my life (beyond food, water and shelter, of course) is community, family, motivation to stay healthy, and the one that those in my crowd will join me in feeling: adventure.
We, like plenty of others, don’t have extended family who live around here. So when COVID-19 took in-person, face-to-face community away from us, I started to grasp the profound importance community has in my life and in all our lives.
But when the emails and messages started coming in from our runners, one after the other, passionately telling us how much they missed our races, the “trail reunions” as we started calling them, it hit us hard. At that moment, I stopped feeling sorry for myself that our company suddenly quit producing an income and I was working twice as many hours. I immediately started feeling an obligation (in a good way) to figure it out. I had to figure out how we can make our trail running events happen. How to get our “trail reunions” back on the calendar.
I realized at that time, in essence, the very core of Tejas Trails is just that: adventures and friendships with people who are passionate about living life to the fullest, and who make us better people!
So here we are, September of 2020. After many many long days and nights of thinking, and re-thinking, and contacting cities, counties, professionals, doctors, parks, ranches, volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and on and on, our trail running events are back on! With a lot of help, we figured it out!
Our “trail reunions” are happening on all sides of Austin’s city limits. One after the other, for months on end. We will get to see people running 5k’s to 150 milers and everything in between! We’ll get to see people have something that gets them excited — and maybe a little intimidated — on their calendars again. A healthy goal to work toward.
We’re both excited and humbled. Our community of trail runners and host entities believe in what we’re doing, and that means more than I can say. We invite everyone into our trail family. We don’t care what you look like. If you’re a runner or a hiker. If you’re fast or slow. If you’ve never been in the woods or if you’re hardcore. We don’t care where you come from. We just care about where you’re going; and that you have some fun getting there!
So back to my original question to myself: Is Tejas Trails an essential company? In a roundabout way, for those of us who need goals to stay active, who appreciate challenges, who want time in nature, who need genuine people around them, I guess so.
If you want to see what we’re all about, we’re an open book. All our COVID-19 safety plans are visible on our website. Shoot us a message if you’re nervous about trying the trails out for the first time. I sincerely hope to meet you soon and get to know your story.