Acclimating with Leah: Running with Twisted Trails |

Acclimating with Leah: Running with Twisted Trails

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — I’ve always found the best way to immerse yourself in a new community is through fitness, which is why I am starting a new weekly fitness column.

I’ll start by saying, “Howdy!” I’m Leah, the new sports editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. My background in fitness is lengthy, but humbled by altitude. Growing up in Texas, I played volleyball in the fall, ran track in the spring and went to conditioning camp in the summer. In college, I began dabbling in long-distance running through half-marathons and overnight team relays across the backroads of central Texas.

But I’d move to Mason City, Iowa for my first job in journalism, in search of a community and longing for a sport more catered to my sprinting roots, which is why I joined a CrossFit gym.

One year later, I’m in a similar position. I knew absolutely no one in Steamboat before I moved here, so I’m once again turning to fitness.

My first stop was the Twisted Trails BARley Beer Run, where local runners gather year-round for a free community run at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the Twisted Trails Running Company.

Yes, this group even runs through winter, which includes a Christmas-themed run with music.

Josh Boles, the owner of Twisted Trails now living in Fayetteville, Arkansas, opened the store in Steamboat three years ago.

He saw the need for a running store after he and his wife struggled to buy running shoes in town, which was shocking given Steamboat’s fit population.

The running club was just an assumed accessory to the store.

“So the Barley opened up just shortly before our store opened up and really every running store you go to has group runs that’s associated with a bar or beer of some sort,” Boles said. “So it was kind of the perfect timing for both of us.”

As a person who has spent the majority of her life at sea level, with the exception of twice-a-year ski trips to Colorado, I knew I wasn’t in my best shape going into this 3-mile run.

But, like most running groups I’ve been a part of, there was no worry.

A group of about 10 of us set out for an evening run up Spring Creek Trail, around the pond and back. And while the rest of the runners dreaded the heat that plagued the commencement of the journey, I was overjoyed for the dry, 77-degree weather.

If only there was more oxygen.

The runners span ages and running levels. I was holding up the rear end of the pack, but was fortunate to have two runners join me in walking a few seconds during the uphill climb.

I told them they could run ahead if they’d like, but Chris Ingols, the store manager, said that this is just part of the courtesy when there’s a smaller group.

“If it’s a small group we go a certain distance, we wait at the top of a hill or the turnaround point.” Ingols said.

The route is different every week, but I highly recommend the Spring Creek route for its abundance of shade and beautiful view. It’s also mostly a trail run, which is softer on the joints than concrete. That’s perfect for someone who is prone to injury like me.

The group concludes at The Barley Tap and Tavern just in time for happy hour, and a cold beer always tastes better after an accomplished run with good company.

As I continue this journey of acclimation through fitness, I’ll take any suggestions for future fitness adventures through Steamboat.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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