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A Freetrailer’s Gift Guide

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Headshot of Corrine Malcolm, Editor-in-Chief at Freetrail

By: Corrine Malcolm

Freetrail Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Trail Society Podcast.

The holiday season is upon us and if your email looks anything like mine it has been flooded with Black Friday to Cyber Monday deals for weeks now. If you’re looking for deals… well, this is not the gift guide for you – but if you’re stumped on what to gift your ultra supporter, training partner, or ultra nerd I’ve got some ideas to get those creative gift giving juices flowing. (And I promise this isn’t just my personal wish list) This is where I say, “Hey you know what they might like? A membership to Freetrail Pro!” okay okay, you’re right, they’re already members – so here are a few other ideas for you!

For the Ultra Supporter

The supporters in your life are important, and ultra supporters are an extra special type. Maybe they run, maybe they race, maybe they hangout at aid stations just because they think you’re pretty neat. Whatever the case may be, supporters are the gifts that just keep on giving, so give them something a little special to say, “Hey thanks for being up at 2 a.m. to feed me lukewarm instant mashed potatoes.”

Speaking of overnight crewing, looking at you 100-mile folks, gift your crew basically a warm hug. Something to keep them warm, and aid in their camp chair power naps as you hallucinate in the woods. I’m talking about a Rumpl – we got one for our truck and holy toledo does this thing come in handy, I love it, our dog (who until recently hated blankets) loves it. Truth be told when they give up the camp chair for you at mile 60, they’re also going to give up their Rumpl to keep you warm.

Okay, so hear me out, but I’m a big fan of subscription gifts. With options that often vary from 3 to 12 months in length it’s a great way to give a renewing gift that spreads the joy out a little bit further into the new year. Some of my favorites gifts ever given (a cake subscription) or received (natural wine subscription) have been just that. Turns out many of my favorite coffee roasters offer subscriptions – and who can say no to you taking care of their coffee fix? Give it a go with some of my favorites: Treeline Coffee, Equator Coffee, and Blue Copper Coffee.

And for that hot coffee – grab something to keep it warm all day long.

From the hours they spend chasing you around, napping during events, and jumping into pace take care of your supporters niggles by gifting the tools that keep them and their mobile aid station turned physical therapy clinics up and running. We’re talking rollers of every size and shape, myofasical tools, sticks, and percussive massage guns… a recovery tool for everyone, and you know they’ll share if you ask nicely.

For Your Training Partner… or You 😉

Is it for them or is it for you? Or maybe better yet, you’re snagging something for both of you, it’ll be our little secret. One of my aims during the holidays season is to support small local businesses wherever I can – and there are a bunch of small businesses that are crushing it right now that have me completely jazzed.

For the best women’s running shorts I’ve ever run in check out Inudra Athletic’s Stay Put Shorts. Move over Melanzana there’s a new kid on the market – Light Foot Athletics makes small batch thermal layers, sun hoodies, and more. Keep your eye on them, they sell out fast! I think we can all agree that we live in a highly digital world there is something really satisfying in keeping a written training log. Professional athlete, Grayson Murphy, has been putting out Training Log Planners for a couple of years now, the 2023 edition is the best one yet and hit the market this fall. Finally, you can almost never go wrong with a gift card and picking one up to your local speciality run store or other outdoor store means they’ll get exactly what they want no worrying about, “Was it the color purple that they hated or was it turquoise?”

While taller socks are not everyone’s cup of tea they do allow you to add a little flair, fun, and funk to any trail running ensemble. From dinosaurs to sriracha themed SockGuy has your fun sports sock game (that’s right slightly compressive with a perfect fit) covered.

Be it post long run or post race one of my favorite parts is getting to sit around with everyone afterwards enjoying a beverage and catching up on the day. When it comes to a good trailhead drink that we can all cheers to at the end of the day I reach for a cold non-alcoholic beer from Athletic Brewing Co. .

Maybe non-traditional, but in a world where we might not need anything making a charitable donation in someone’s name can be a really meaningful way to give a gift and give back. Some favorites for us in house that intersect with the trail community have been: the Trail Mix Fund started in 2021 by Go Beyond Racing helping lower the financial barrier to entry, Bigger Than The Trail an organization advocating for mental health helping to provide educational resources and treatment options, and Footprints Running headed by Dakota Jones is an educational organization giving trail runners the tools to make a direct impact on climate change.

For the Ultra (book) Nerd

Next to socks, books might be the next most common gift, and we don’t hate it! Since running itself can be our time to escape to a fantasy land I leaned into books that are running adjacent, often either thought provoking, humorous, or a healthy combination of them both.

Part deep dive, part cultural history, part understanding what makes us human (and runners), Heather Radke’s Butts: A Backstory ticks all the boxes. You’ll learn how they decided to create the jean sizing system we’ve come to exist in and what makes us different from an evolutionary biology standpoint.

Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden digs into the multibillion-dollar recovery industry to uncover what athletes need, what we think we need, and what the science actually has to say about it.

From across the pond comes a though provoking book by ultrarunner Damian Hall, We Can’t Run Away From This: Racing to improve running’s footprint in our climate emergency makes us take a second (and third, and forth) look at how the sport we love also contributes to the destruction of the places we love so dearly. While our individual actions might seem small, the book prompts us to look at travel, racing, and gear purchasing with a more critical eye.

Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness by Steve Magness flips the script on what it means to be resilient. Sounds like compulsory ultrarunner reading to me. This book is jammed packed full of lessons that will not only pay dividends when the going gets tough in your next race but also as you ride the ups and downs of life.

These next two I put over in the unofficial category (because I just made it up) “icon reads”. If you haven’t yet go and find a copy of Alison Désir’s Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us – it will rock you. Désir’s writing is powerful and her viewpoint is one of importance for our community as we continue to build an open and inclusive space for all. In tandem, and available for preorder now is Lauren Fleshman’s Good for a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man’s World is a rallying cry to help reform the ecosystem that is currently failing women’s athletics. Consider it a manifesto, one that I’m willing to get in line for.

Maybe I nailed it or maybe I didn’t – but most importantly tell those you care about you love them extra big this holiday season, and maybe throw in a pair of socks just to be safe.

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