A Trail Runner’s Perspective: Through the 2020 Looking Glass

This trail runner’s perspective was written by Ashley Brasovan (pictured above, right).

It took COVID approximately 6 months, 2 weeks and 5 days to break me. Like many people, I didn’t expect 2020 to look quite like this. Right after competing in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials – and in the midst of buying a house in Golden, CO – the COVID-19 pandemic hit in full swing. I remember when “I knew” this was going to be a big deal. It was Friday the 13th (of course) in March. I was sitting in a conference room with all of my co-workers doing a client presentation. We got an email around 3 p.m. that simply read, “Make sure to pack up your belongings as we (my company) will be mandating a work from home policy for the next several weeks.” At that time, my guess was 1-2 months – drastically off the estimate of what would soon become a reality of potentially several years.

Trail Runner

The author winning her first USATF Trail Championship in Wisconsin.

So, what has training and racing looked like for me these past few months? I was fortunate enough to get in two races at the Bandera 25K and the Olympic Marathon Trials prior to March, and was then on a running break for the start of the pandemic. Luckily, many of the trails in Colorado have stayed open with strict social distancing requirements, mask ordinances, and local security monitoring users. I have yet to feel unsafe or exposed on trails and have been able to maintain the same level of training that I would have under “normal circumstances.” I’ve done the majority of my training around 6 a.m., which further limits crowds and exposure.

With many races being canceled and strict travel limitations in place, my racing schedule needed a major pivot. Originally, several European races and national championship races were on the calendar, but were canceled early on. I was fortunate enough to be able to race at the Pikes Peak Marathon in August, and I have plans to do one additional trail marathon this year in Moab at the USATF Marathon Trail Championships in November. Like many others, Strava segment hunting, fun high-altitude mountain adventures, and Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempts have filled the void that racing couldn’t quite cover this year.

Ashley Brasovan

How about the rest of my life? Well, I am sure Groundhog Day might hit home for a few people at this point. Every day, I wake up so grateful to have a job that is able to support me financially and emotionally – especially with the number of people that have become unemployed this year alone. I work in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector in Colorado where I spend quite bit of my time working with local governments throughout the state on energy efficiency improvements, on-site renewable energy generation, and resiliency opportunities. My projects this year have really focused on making renewable energy affordable and accessible to lower income and disadvantaged communities and improving the resiliency of facilities in rural areas. This has really helped to create some sense of fulfillment in my life despite the roller coaster of emotions that COVID has brought upon the world.

All in all, 2020 has brought some unique challenges but I know that I am not unique in my experiences. My advice to everyone for moving forward with training and life is to stay flexible with training and racing, prioritize your mental and physical health, and know that you are not in this alone!

Trail Runner

About the Author: Ashley is the 2017 USATF Half Marathon Trail Champion and 2018 USATF 30 km Trail Champion and has been a member of three world championship teams – the 2018 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, 2019 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, and 2009 World Cross Country Championships.