ATRA’s View from the Pack series presented by RaidLight shines a spotlight on Kyle Robidoux

In this series of articles, the American Trail Running Association recognizes and celebrates trail race volunteers and trail runners like Kyle Robidoux who have dedicated themselves as everyday athletes to grow trail running in their community. “View from the Pack” is supported by ATRA corporate member RaidLight.

Kyle Robidoux was an attendee and panelist at the 2018 US Trail Running Conference where he provided insight to his experiences as a runner who is visually impaired and offered race directors suggestions for making their events more user-friendly for both the visually impaired runner and his or her guides. From that conversation, Greg Lanctot, owner of Pacific Coast Trail Runs in California, included some of these takeaways at his Los Gatos Trail Run in September.

Lanctot said, “Along with the Marathon, Half, and 10K events, we created a ‘California School for the Blind 5K.’ Some of the things that I did, in addition to normal race day preparation, to make them feel welcome, comfortable, and successful, are listed below. We had 8 runners and guides.”

  • Blind Runner Bibs
  • Guide Bibs
  • Welcome Signs
  • Started event at 9:05am – 5 minutes after 10K event
  • Alerted runners to RUNGO APP (which gives verbal commands)
  • Alerted runners to taco bar menu options (no braille menu made)

Name: Kyle Robidoux

Age: 42

Hometown: Boston, MA

Years Running Trails: Four years

Miles per week running on Trails:
Average about 10-15 MPW. Weekly training is 50-75, but getting to trails without driving is challenging in Boston.

Approximate number of trail races run each year, and longest trail race completed:
Completed three 100-mile races and run about half dozen trail races each year.

Kyle and his guide at the Loon Mountain Race in Lincoln, NH.

What got you into trail running?
I grew up in Maine and always enjoyed being in the woods. Running trails was a naturally transition when I began running ultras.

What motivates you to keep running?
I gain a tremendous amount of motivation from my wife and daughter as well as my trail running peers.

Have you witnessed any differences between trail running and road running?
I think the trail running scene is more low-key and outdoor adventure focused. Although still competitive, I think trail runners are incredibly supportive of new trail runners and embrace the “no runner left behind” mantra.

Trail running is a sport where you can line up at the start with some of the best trail runners in the world. Does this intimidate you, foster a sense of inclusion, or fall somewhere in between?
This is one of the aspects that I love about trail running! I am not intimated, if anything it challenges me to push harder. I think elite trail runners are the most accessible, approachable, and supportive athletes of any sport.

What is your opinion of the camaraderie you’ve witnessed in trail racing?
Trail running embraces camaraderie like no other sport. Personally, I have benefited from the generosity of dozens of trail runners who have shared their sight as volunteer sighted guides.

What advice would you give to a fellow runner who may be hesitant about entering a trail race?
Start with a race distance they are comfortable with, reach out to a local trail running club to get in a few practice runs, then just go for it and have fun.

People often reward themselves after a hard trail race. What is your post-race indulgence?
I pick out one great local beer to enjoy post-race and the fay after. Post-race is more celebratory and the day after is more reflective on my accomplishment.

Do you have a favorite motivational trail race story to share?
My only two DNFs are my first two trail races which were training runs for a 100k. The morning of the 100k I made a pinky-swear with my daughter that regardless of my time I was going to finish the full distance. The course had some very technical sections and I finished in 25.5 hours (I have since completed two 100-milers under this time). Setting pace goals is often very important but sometimes you just need to grind it out and finish the distance.

Robidoux will be a speaker at the Trailhead Stage during The Running Event (TRE) in Austin, TX, next month. TRE is a corporate member of the American Trail Running Association.

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