Erik Stanley loves trail running. He discovered the beauty of this type of running while exploring the Colorado mountains outside of Buena Vista, CO as a high school runner. But before he got serious about trail running, he honed his speed running for the University of Texas 2004-2008 track and cross country, setting PRs of 3:41 in the 1,500 and 14:09 for 5,000 meters.
“I had a great time at UT. It was challenging—learning how to manage expectations and step up the competition level,” said Stanley. “Leo Manzano was my roommate—we trained together. We’d do trail runs on the Barton Greenbelt every week, and that was one of my favorite workouts.”
Stanley went on to win the 2014 3M Half Marathon and the 2015 Statesman Capitol 10,000, and this past December at the California International Marathon he set his marathon PR of 2:24:41. “I knew I wasn’t ready for an Olympic Marathon qualifying time, but I’m really happy overall with my race there,” he said.
Stanley founded Trail Roots in 2014—a community of runners offering guided trail runs and custom training plans. “We foster relationships through the running ‘tribes,’” said Stanley. “Each tribe has an ambassador, and when a new person comes in, they are immediately welcomed as part of the community. The tribes are like a small family, governed by your running pace.”
Trail Roots also offers coaching for all kinds of competitive running, from roads to trails. Of course, even the road runners do some training on trails. Note: Trail Roots lists a number of great trail running routes in and around Austin here. Stanley, along with Rachel Blair and Joe Cooper are the coaches, and they offer coaching plans for individuals. “We also offer strength classes geared towards injury prevention,” said Stanley.
Trail Roots will be hosting the Texas Switchback, their flagship event, consisting of 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2 trail races on Saturday, May 11. The races will take place at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch, a private ranch in between Dripping Springs and Johnson City just east of Pedernales State Park. The half marathon is one loop, and the full is two loops. “There are about six miles of single track and four miles of double track dirt roads,” said Stanley, who expects around 400 runners. “It’s pretty rocky, but I’d say it’s beginner-friendly.”
“Ready to Run is one of our sponsors—supplying New Balance running shoes as prizes for first-place winners along with gift certificates for second and third places,” said Stanley. Packet pick-up at Ready to Run will be on Friday, May 10 from 12:00-7:00 p.m.
Popular trail running gems in and around Austin include:
Upcoming Races: Saturday, May 4 at 8:00 a.m., the Race for Recovery 5K at the Manzano Mile – East of Marble Falls High School. Saturday, May 4 at 8:00 a.m., Cinco De Mayo 5K/10K at 202 E Prairie Lea in Lockhart.