by Nathan Perkinson
I haven’t always been a “runner”. I would say I was your typical jock throughout high school, always playing whatever main sport was in season, like soccer, basketball, and baseball. Unlike most of my friends, I always loved complementing my sports practices with running. It was never more than that for a long time though, just a little addition to my other sports pursuits.
When I went off to college, I continued to play some basketball and stuff, but I would also run. While at Liberty University, where I spent my first two years of college, I took part in some trail races that Liberty hosts on their home trails of Liberty Mountain. It was on that mountain where I really fell in love with trail running and running in general. Life eventually took me away from Liberty University and back home to Christiansburg, Virginia, where I attended nearby Virginia Tech. I took some time away from running to explore other fitness endeavors, but I eventually came back to the sport. I loved running in the New River Valley! I loved my runs on the Huckleberry Trail, watching many Blacksburg sunsets over the rolling hills and farms. I loved running around the campus of Virginia Tech, passing fellow students, taking in the beautiful grass, trees, and life brimming from the vibrant community that can be found in Blacksburg.
After quite a bit of time road running, I found my way out to Pandapas Pond one day. It is a small recreational area outside of Blacksburg in the Jefferson National Forest that has many accessible trails. It was here where my love for trail running was truly re-kindled. I began spending more and more time there running around the pond and creeks that abut the trails, providing a tranquil partner in an already serene place. I began to simply appreciate nature more, and it gave me such a different perspective in learning to love God’s creation. It provided me time to be alone in the woods and time to realize I’m small and my God is really big. It gave me time to escape the business of life, sometimes only hearing my breathing, and not the noise of everyday life. This is why I love trail running.
Since that time, I have moved to Roanoke with my wonderful wife, ran my first road marathon, and have fallen head over heels for running. I have most recently discovered what I believe to be one of the most supportive communities in running, that being the people of the running community in Roanoke, Virginia. I don’t care what you say, it is second to none! I have also had the privilege to join an incredible group of runners on the Roanoke Endurance Team and I love the friendships, community, and camaraderie that the team brings to my life!
Roanoke has also provided TONS of amazing trails to adventure on and I have fallen more in love with trail running than ever before. I have come to love the grueling mountain climbs around here because the views from the top take your breath away more than the climbs up the mountains. The trail running community is also second to none, with Josh and Gina Gilbert leading the way with their Mountain Junkies race series that I have been privileged to participate in this year. Along with that, Josh and Gina will soon be providing me with the opportunity to do something in trail running I’ve never done before! In just a couple weeks, I will do my first trail marathon and I cannot wait! It’s going to be hard, but that makes it all more worth it! I can’t wait to spend the day in the woods, running over dirt, roots, and rocks, just taking in the sights and sounds of nature, listening to my breathing, and learning to appreciate creation a little bit more.