Giving Thanks, 2015

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It’s 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and above my laptop’s screen, I can just now start to make out the outline of the Northern Presidentials, here in Randolph, the quirky little mountain town in Northern New Hampshire that’s my home for much of the year.

On my mind is Thanksgiving… or, more accurately, thanks and giving. None of us seem to stop nearly enough to give thanks for what we have. In a world that on some days seems to be unraveling by the moment, this late fall holiday feels more important than ever. Gratitude is trendy these days—there’s even a TED talk about it, by David Steindl-Rast. (Highly recommended by the way and, yes, I’m grateful a friend passed it along!) For once, I think, here’s a trend I can support.

So, this morning, as I look at my Run the Alps “to do” notes, I pause. I look out at the mountain view that’s starting to take shape, and my thoughts turn to this last season in the Alps.

One of the really special moments of this past season: An exuberant Mira Rai rounds the corner and heads for the finish line in the Skyrunning 80 km. Photo courtesy of Infocimes, ©Pierre Raphoz .

One of the really special moments of this past season: An exuberant Mira Rai rounds the corner and heads for the finish line in the Skyrunning 80 km. Photo courtesy of Infocimes, ©Pierre Raphoz .

I’m thankful for so much. I am surrounded by energy, ideas, enthusiasm, and goodwill. In Abby, Alister, Alex, and Claire, we have great guides who are knowledgeable, thoughtful, and selfless. Troy and the entire crew at Alpinehikers are a remarkably steady rudder, managing every detail with such conscientiousness that they have become my role models. Josh, ever tireless, has built beautiful and efficient web pages, and a Run the Alps look that’s just plain elegant in its design. Our talented contributors, including Phil, Emmie, Heddi, and Yitka, bring trail running across the Alps to life on these pages. Then, there’s Dan and Janine, who aren’t just photographers. They understand content. They get the emotional connection we all seek, whether in images or writing. A random email connected us, and I’m especially grateful that I wrote it… and that they answered!

This year brought many new friends and acquaintances into the fold, too.  Federico Gilardi, Philippe Plantie, Yitka Winn, Sean Meissner, Pablo Vigil, Mike Mooney, Kate Wood, Michel and Catherine Poletti, Serge Chapuis and Kate Desmurs, to name just a few.

And, such great clients! It’s been one of the nicest surprises of Run the Alps, meeting so many enthusiastic trail runners, many of whom I now count as friends. Thank you all, for sharing your time in the mountains.

There’s more ahead, too, about which I find myself already thankful. New partnerships in the works that we’ll be announcing in the coming months. New trips, new trails and trail races, and lots more. Some days, it’s hard to keep track of it all. But, it feels good.

Our first UTMB tour takes a time-out at the Bonatti Refuge, in Italy's Val Ferret.

Our first UTMB tour takes a time-out at the Bonatti Refuge, in Italy’s Val Ferret.

Each year, I have an image that seems to capture the season—a scene that stays with me, somehow emotionally embedded and forever memorable. This year, it was a moment at Refuge Elena, in Val Ferret, above the Italian village of Courmayer. On a hillside across from the Mont Blanc massif, Elena is a classic Alp hut, with great local meals and a friendly crew. The view is spectacular. In the photo is one of the most exuberant groups we had all season—notably, all women, and mostly from Colorado. They smiled and laughed for a week, as they ran their way around Mont Blanc on the route of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.

It was a great summer, personally, too. I ran mountain races I never thought possible for me, Ice Trail Tarentaise and CCC—and with times faster than I had imagined for this body, too. I ran every race I wanted, something which almost never happens. Sierre-Zinal, Matterhorn Ultraks, the Chamonix Vertical Kilometer and Mont Blanc Marathon, France’s Double VK, and more. What luck!

In his talk on gratitude, Steindl-Rast says that most of us have it wrong. We tend to think that when we are happy, we are grateful. But, in fact, it’s the other way around. To be happy, we need to be grateful. (Put it to the test, and you’ll see he’s on to something.)

Not the Alps: Trail running outside the door of the Run the Alps U.S. office.

Not the Alps: Trail running outside the door of the Run the Alps U.S. office.

The sun’s hitting the peaks, and it’s time to call my dog, grab my Salomon Spikecross, and head out for a long Thanksgiving morning run through these, my first mountains.

Thanks to you all, for a great Run the Alps season.

I’ll see you in the Alps before we know it. Happy trail running!

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