As the non-profit American Trail Running Association approaches a quarter century of service, we are interviewing trail runners from around the United States like Zobel Belisario who are participating in our 25th Anniversary Challenge. Through these profiles we’ll introduce you to lesser known every day athletes who are walking, hiking, or trail running their way to distance milestones and sharing their experiences with the community on social media.
We hope these interviews will inspire you to get out on the trails while getting to know trail runners from different parts of the country. If you haven’t already joined our 25th Anniversary Challenge, you can learn more about it and sign-up on our website.
Let’s Get to Know Zobel Belisario
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Challenge region: Northeast
Years running trails: 10 years
Miles per week run on trails: 10
Favorite race distance: 50K
Longest trail race completed: 50K
[American Trail Running Association] How did you get into trail running?
[Zobel Belisario] I found trail running around the same time as road running. My parents lived about a 10-minute drive near some trails that had beautiful views of a lake once you reached the summit. Their neighborhood didn’t have sidewalks to safely run on, which I tried doing, but it felt too unsafe for me. I started running in the forest to stay out of traffic, and so I wouldn’t have to do all my miles on a treadmill.
[ATRA] What motivates you to get out and run on trails?
[Belisario] It’s a nice break from the road running I usually do and the city that I live in. I was born in Queens, currently live in Brooklyn, and lived in different cities in between. It’s been cities most of the time for me, but I love being in the outdoors. New York City doesn’t have a ton of trails to run on, but they are here! I usually run on the trails in Prospect Park. On some parts, you can forget that you’re in a big city: there are no signs of big buildings, taxis, buses, or roads. It’s amazing. Trail running is also more challenging to me, and I love being able to push myself.
[ATRA] What has your experience been running on trails versus running on roads?
[Belisario] I love trail running way more. It’s easier on my knees than running on pavement, and depending on the technicality, I also like pretending I’m on an obstacle course. Trails are also quieter than the roads I run on, and I love the scenery!
[ATRA] What do you like best about being part of the trail running community?
[Belisario] I like the camaraderie and support I’ve received from folks in the trail running community. I also love being the person on the giving side of that, too. The finish line of a trail race is like no other. People are just hanging out, taking their time, acting like there’s nothing else to do but to be in the woods. It’s truly a good vibe. This community is full of awesome people. I’ve met some of the best people I know through trail running.
[ATRA] What advice would you give to someone trying trail running for the first time?
[Zobel Belisario] If you find yourself running at a slower pace on trails, don’t get discouraged! This especially goes if you’re even just on slightly technical trails. Hopping over rocks and roots, and running through muddy puddles, can really slow down your pace. Like most things, it just takes time and practice to get better at it. Also, take water with you.
[ATRA] How did you first learn about our 25th Anniversary Challenge?
[Belisario] Tim McNamara invited me to your 25th Anniversary Challenge Facebook group! We met at the Transrockies Run in 2019, which is a 120 mile/6 day stage race in Colorado.
[ATRA] What do you enjoy most about our 25th Anniversary Challenge?
[Belisario] The length of the challenge. Since it’s spread out over multiple months, it’s keeping me running. Close second is everyone’s pictures from the weekly trail teasers on the Facebook group!
[ATRA] Part of our 25th Anniversary Challenge is the weekly trail teaser. What trail teaser would you like to see during the challenge?
[Belisario] Snap a picture of a cool looking bug, an animal (from a safe distance!), or a person on a run with you. I’d call it, “Share the Trails!”
[ATRA] Share with us how our 25th Anniversary Challenge has motivated you.
[Belisario] It’s motivated me to keep running. There are not a ton of races happening nearby yet, so this challenge will keep me going for quite some time since it goes on until the end of December.
[ATRA] What is your favorite post-run or post-race indulgence?
[Belisario] Smoothies and iced coffees no matter the weather.
[ATRA] What is your favorite trail running shoe?
[Belisario] I love Altra’s Timp.
[ATRA] What is your favorite time of day to run trails?
[Belisario] I prefer to run in the early evenings.
Zobel Belisario’s pick one quiz results:
- Wide Path over Single-track
- Downhill instead of uphill running
- Planking over Push Ups
- She prefers Massage to Foam Rolling
- She will take a Long Run over Speed Work
But wait, there’s more! If you missed our first challenge profile, check out our interview with San Antonio, Texas trail runner Kimberly Aubuchon.