Five years ago Mountain Gear owner Paul Fish and I presented to the Spokane Chamber Of Commerce on the topic of why Spokane should seek to be on Outside Magazine’s annual list of Best Outdoor Adventure Towns. OTM has always worked to raise the profile of outdoor recreation in the Spokane/Coeur ‘d Alene area, partly because we believe it’s a great economic development advantage for us. That’s why I was thrilled when I saw the August 2010 issue of Outside Magazine to read that we had finally made it.
There it was, the last city to be mentioned of the “Top 25 Best Adventure Burgs,” garnering Runner Up for Best Trail-Running behind Ashland, OR. For thoughts on our new-found distinction I spoke to one of the Godfathers of local trail-running, Spokane Parks & Recreation’s Mike Aho, one the founders of the Spokane River Run at Riverside State Park.
“We haven’t even scratched the surface,” says Aho. Aho started a new trail run last year, The Sekani Trail Run, and is looking to do another, the Dwight Dash (as in Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.) He lists a whole bunch of reasons trail-running is great here.
“We’re running from town—you don’t have to get in your car to run. There are no fees to use trails. We have both flat trails and trails with elevation.”
We also have a great culture of running that goes back to the creation of Bloomsday and beyond. And beautiful trails don’t hurt either. But the reason Aho says we have just scratched the surface is that much of our trail running territory is not well known. Those who use the trails are not anxious to shout about it from the rooftops in fear luring crowds. We need to get over that. We should be loud and proud about our outdoor amenities so that people want to visit here and live here as a result. You can’t preserve, develop, promote, and be good stewards of an outdoor amenity you don’t know exists.
I’m telling everyone who’ll listen that Spokane is one of Outside Magazine’s Top 25 Adventure Burgs for 2010 and we should be darn proud of it. I predict it won’t be the last time we make the list. We can—and will continue to make this a better outdoor town. In the meantime we can all train for the Sekani Trail Run on October 16th.