Please welcome the twenty ninth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the fifth in 2019. A resident of Birmingham, Alabama, 35-year-old Dr. Beau Beard is a fixture on and off the trails as an athlete, chiropractor, and volunteer.
Nominator Olivia Affuso wrote, “Not only is Dr. Beau Beard an amazing trail runner/ athlete, he is a fantastic sports chiropractor and supporter of the South East trail running community. Beau often shows up to races early to help other runners with last minute evaluations and quick tape jobs before going off to run the race, too. Many days he comes in first overall, or at least in the top-five finishers and then hangs around to cheer on the remaining finishers. Outside of patient care and trail running, Beau brings knowledge to the community through his regular podcast with top practitioners and scientists in the country. We, especially me, are so lucky to have him in the Birmingham community as he keeps us all running even us masters’ ultra runners.”
Hailing from Canton, a small town smack dab in the middle of Illinois, Beard has also called Telluride, Colorado, and Anchorage, Alaska home. But for the past six years, he has lived in Birmingham, Alabama, where he and his wife Sloan run their business, The FARM: Functional Athletic Rehabilitation & Movement. “I’m a sports chiropractor, rehabilitation specialist and human performance coach,” said Beard. “At The FARM we specialize in sports injuries and holistic healthcare.”
Beard started running trails about sixteen years ago, “I fractured my femur when I was nine years old and was told that I would probably never run again,” said Beard. “Well I’m hard headed and played sports all the way through college, but I didn’t really start trail running until I moved to Alaska in 2003. I started running up Flat Top Mountain a few times a week and entered my first trail race a year later. I came in third place, and I’ve been finding freedom on single track ever since.”
That freedom has encouraged him to go farther in his training and racing. “I’ll be running my first 100 miler this year,” said Beard. “I’ve always leaned more towards half marathon and shorter due to my middle distance background, but I’m really enjoying getting out and taking on more 50Ks and 50 milers. My favorite trail race to date was also one of my worst showings to date. I ran The Rut 50K in 2016, and it was brutally hot, but what a beautiful and tough race.”
His dedication to the sport is evidenced through his practice. “About 75% of my patients are runners/trail runners,” said Beard. “I see a variety of injuries, but I also provide in depth gait analysis, in clinic as well as online cross training geared specifically towards runners, and I teach quite a few seminars around the country each year on injury prevention and performance maximization.”
Beard’s dedication transfers over to volunteerism. “I’ve been volunteering at a variety of races for at least the last 10 years,” said Beard. “I’ve been the medical director for races across the U.S. Currently through my practice we offer first aid services, minor injury care, soft tissue therapy, stretching, taping and other recovery services for races around the Southeast.
“The best part of volunteering in a medical capacity is that sometimes we are the X factor when it comes to someone finishing a race,” continued Beard. “Hearing someone tell me that they wouldn’t have made the last 25 miles without our care, or that they haven’t dealt with injury since the last time they saw us at a race really makes working with all those gross and sweaty runners totally worth it!”
Beard is a member of the Birmingham Ultra Trail Society and a sponsor of Southeastern Trail Series, both of these groups help organize trail maintenance efforts, and Beard pitches in as much as he can. “I’ve also organized several trail clean-ups where we gather runners and other trail enthusiasts together to clean up areas of trail that need some TLC,” said Beard.
Like most trail runners, Beard enjoys the solitude and peace realized on the trails. “The biggest lesson I’ve taken from trail running is that at this time in human history we all need to unplug from the stress and constant barrage of everyday life,” said Beard. “My wife can tell when I’m overdue for some trail time, and I think there are many people out there that would benefit greatly from hitting a trail for an hour or two and revitalizing a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature.”
As a medical professional, Beard has some advice to those getting into trail running and racing, “Strengthen your body off of the trail, to be sure that you can enjoy the trails for as many years as you can,” he said. “Most injuries can be greatly offset through proper cross training and just getting a bit stronger and more robust overall.”
Look for Beard this November at his first 100 miler, the Pinhoti Trail Race, a point to point course from Heflin to Sylacauga, Alabama, all on the Pinhoti trail.