Grand Trail

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS -

Alexis and Fred­eric Berg VeloPress 2017 One of the ob­vi­ous rea­sons why trail run­ning is so ap­peal­ing is that it takes you into na­ture, height­en­ing the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the sim­ple beauty of the land­scape around you. Other out­door sports that de­liver us breath­tak­ing views have been the sub­ject of the cof­fee ta­ble book treat­ment. Now, trail run­ning gets its turn with Grand Trail by ul­tra-en­thu­si­ast broth­ers Alexis and Fred­eric Berg. To­gether, they team up to de­liver an un­even but ul­ti­mately en­joy­able global tour of the ul­tra-trail scene in words and im­pres­sive pic­tures.

Pub­lisher VeloPress has spared no ex­pense in the pro­duc­tion of Grand Trail. This deluxe hard­cover land­scape for­mat edi­tion fea­tures high-qual­ity print­ing and richly coloured pho­to­graphs. At about 300 pages, Grand Trail doesn’t over­whelm and feels like the right length for a lazy Sun­day af­ter­noon pe­rusal on the sofa. But the cu­ra­to­rial con­tent choices are some­what un­usual, lim­it­ing the scope of what could have been the de­fin­i­tive book on con­tem­po­rary ul­tra trail run­ning.

Grand Trail fo­cuses on the Ul­tra Trail World Tour, a se­ries of no­table races, such as the Western States 100 in Colorado, the Ul­tra-Trail Mount Fuji and the Marathon des Sables through the Sa­hara. It in­ter­sperses t hese race over­views with pro­files of many of the stars from these races, in­clud­ing Kil­ian Jor­net, Anna Frost and Scott Jurek. Un­for­tu­nately, other i mpor­tant fig­ures like Cana­di­ans Rob Krar and El­lie Greenwood are cu­ri­ously over­looked. Be­cause the book turns its lens en­tirely on the Ul­tra Trail World Tour, no races are high­lighted from big swaths of the globe, in­clud­ing South Amer­ica, one of the sec­ondary hot­beds of t he ult r a-t r a il scene. Que­bec’s Ul­tra-Trail Hur­ri­cana race is fea­tured, as it’s a part of the World Tour and one of the finest events to pop up on the scene in re­cent years. The “be­fore and af­ter Hur­ri­cana” shots, where the pho­tog­ra­pher took por­traits of the run­ners look­ing fresh and then mo­ments af­ter the gru­elling 125k race, are en­ter­tain­ing, but re­ally only de­serve one look and could have been edited out in favour of an­other pro­file or high­lighted race.

If you’re an ul­tra­run­ner, you’ll prob­a­bly be able to look past Grand Trail ’s short­com­ings. It’s a great ref­er­ence for fu­ture des­ti­na­tion races to put on your bucket list, and it’s an easy way to show your non-trail run­ner friends why it is you do what you do.— MD

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