It was spring 2010. We were running between Rattlesnake Bar and Horseshoe Bar, along California’s Folsom Lake, just below the High Sierra. It was late at night, and we each had a headlamp on. Don, who liked to listen to music while he ran, had started listening to podcasts.
Only he couldn’t find any good podcasts about trail running. The only one he heard featured a guy talking about his run as he drove his four-wheel drive truck with loud tires away from the trailhead. The podcast ended with a monologue about the host’s kid’s soccer game.
Scott suggested they use a digital MP3 recorder. Don knew we needed to do better. He knew a local trail runner that was also a producer at a local radio station. So, we figured, we might as well create the podcast we wanted.
We needed a name for the podcast. At the time, the Oakland Raiders football team had its “Raiders Nation,” which was pure passion. Members of Raiders Nation stuck up for each other. They had an identity. We felt the same way about trail running. And we thought it true in more than just North America.
We love the name Trail Runner Nation. But we’ve always struggled with the connection to the Raiders. Don’s never been a Raiders fan. And Scott’s a big Broncos fan.
There was quite a learning curve in those early days. Don ended up with a dozen different microphones. Making a podcast was not nearly as easy as it is today. The connections with remote guests were always challenging. We used Apple’s GarageBand app with plug-ins. Anytime Apple would upgrade its operating system, everything would break. To record the show, we would bring in a card table and set it up at Don’s chiropractic office.
Our very first podcast outlined our philosophy, which is this: “How does this guest help our listeners become better runners?” We have a lot of fun on the podcast, too. We like to be critical of each other. We have a lot of inside jokes that anyone who listens for more than a few episodes will figure out. (Hint: you’re not hearing a mistake if you hear one of us say, “We’ll edit that out.”) Over the years, we’ve learned so much from our guests. It’s very rewarding.
Our first guest came right after that, in our second podcast. It was a good friend and very accomplished athlete, Lee McKinley, who has been running ultras for over 25 years and is getting faster! We discussed his secret sauce and how we, the audience, can adopt some of his training and racing wisdom into our lives.
Trail running is growing now, and even more quickly due to Covid-19. There are new people coming into the sport and we are eager to help them enjoy this sport just like we do. We want to share the wisdom of our guests. We want to help them to be safe, and have the right information and expectations. And, we want them to understand that there’s an underlying culture that’s cool, too. We want them to be part of the Trail Runner Nation!
That first show was nearly 500 episodes ago. Trail running may be a niche, but it’s where we belong. We love doing the podcast.
— Scott and Don