Above photo of Christo courtesy of Aubrey Ann Parker 

Though Christo Miner ran track in high school, the 36-year-old says he “caught the run bug” just five years ago, after joining some of his buddies on group fun runs.

“Running to me now means not just keeping fit physically, but also mentally,” says Christo, who grew up in Mississippi and now lives in Traverse City. “I learned that running is very cathartic for me. When I’m stressed out or have a lot going on in my life, I know I can go out and find some peace of mind or work out some of my problems during a long run.”

He’s found what he calls his “Runily” (runner family) in northern Michigan, where he lives, runs and serves on the board of directors of the Traverse City Track Club. He’s also on the track club’s racing team.

imageOne of Christo’s springtime racing traditions is the Traverse City Trail Running Festival, a two-day event held at Timber Ridge Recreation & RV Resort. This year’s event takes place in just over a week, on April 22-23. It features a 10K relay and kids fun run Friday night, and on Saturday individual distances of 50K, 25K and 10K.

“What I like about TC Trail Fest is what I like primarily about trail running in general: trails are gentler on the bones and joints, running through nature, being surrounded by trees and birds and wildlife,” he says. “It’s overwhelming to the senses moreso than the drudgery of road running, which tends to become tedious and repetitive for me.”

Endurance Evolution is behind the Trail Running Festival as well as three other racing events (learn about these MRG partner events here » )

“The organization of Trail Fest is great, as are all Endurance Evolution events — very runner-friendly,” Christo says, “and Timber Ridge is an excellent example of the types of trails you can expect in the region: lots of varying forests, some different trail types (two-track, single-track, backcountry, access roads), lots of mid-size roller hills, though not too technical, in terms of footwork, placement.”

Christo, running during the Traverse City Trail Running Festival.
Christo, running during the Traverse City Trail Running Festival.

Here’s more from Christo, who is gearing up for this year’s trail fest:

Tell us more about your experiences running these events…

I’ve participated in TC Trail Fest since its first year when I ran in the 10K relay (with Sean Kickbush, 1st overbal) the night before running the 50K ulira. It was quite grueling running a 3-mile loop multiple times in a combo of slush and mud! Unforgettable! I think all the 50K-ers bonded on that run. I love the 10K relay, a great pre-cursor to the events on Saturday. You get a nice crowd of spectators from people picking up their packets and hang out for the action or the kids run. I’ve run with someone different every year. This year I’m entering the co-ed division with Traverse City Track Club Race Teammate Megan Graverson. In the solo division, since year one, I’ve been competing in the 25K. It’s a more manageable distance considering the wildly-variable weather conditions we can experience here!

imageDo you have a goal for this year’s race?

As far as goals, it’s hard to say. I want to finish strong. Trail fest is an early race in the year, so I use it as a barometer of how spring training has gone and how the next few months will go.

What tips would offer to someone running this event for the first time this year?

I think it would be a blast if you rented a cottage on-premises at Timber Ridge! Take out the travel factor, just wake up and be ready to race! Less stress on race morning. It’s something I want to do, maybe have a lil’ party. And/or, encourage camping, having a festive crowd.
If you’re signed up for a solo race, definitely find a partner and race the relay Friday, great warm-up, and gets you into the Festival spirit, celebrating trails, and racing multiple events. If the solo races were spread out a little more, I would consider running multiple races throughout the day.

Christo (right) with 10K relay teammate Sean Seekins.
Christo (right) with 10K relay teammate Sean Seekins.

What is your go-to post race meal? (Any place you’d recommend in Traverse City if anyone is coming in from out of town?)

One of my fave post-race eateries is Centre Street Cafe. They have excellent weekly specials made with fresh seasonal produce.

Any final thoughts about this event and trail running in general?

I think trail running helps teach trail stewardship and learning to care for the places we run and live. I leave less waste on-trail. If I have wrappers, I will try and carry them until I reach an aid station. Kudos to Joel and Endurance Evolution for giving us TC Trail Fest!

Interested in signing up for this event? Online registration closes this Wednesday, but runners can sign up late at packet pick-up Friday evening. Learn more and register here »

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