Please welcome the twentieth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the eighth in 2018. Frank Dumont is a trail runner, volunteer, and an Internal Medicine physician with interests in wellness and athletics, and high altitude.
Wrote nominator Terry Chiplin, “Dr. Frank Dumont has become a passionate ambassador for trail running at all levels. In his work as an internal medicine physician he has encourage his patients to become active on the trails, including this treatment as part of his overall plan to help people achieve excellent health while stopping medications. Since being introduced to trail running through the support from Estes Park Medical Center for the US Trail Running Conference, he has become a trail runner himself, planning to run four 50 milers in Colorado in 2108! He believes that running in nature is healthy active for us at every level, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. His ability to see wellness as a holistic practice, and to deliver information in an eloquent and engaging manner, has been a thought provoking and sometimes surprising aspect of every time I have heard him present on the subject.”
Dr. Dumont is a “near-native” Coloradoan having moved to the state from his birthplace of Laramie, Wyoming in 1970. He grew up in Loveland and has lived in Estes Park for the last 16 years. His wife of 26 years, Katherine, is a teacher in Estes Park and the couple has two teenage sons, Ted, 18, and Gio, 16.
Dumont received his MD in 1997 and joined his first practice in 2000 after finishing his Internal Medicine training. He has been practicing at Estes Park Health (previously Estes Park Medical Center) for just over 16 years. “I practice a full spectrum of Internal Medicine (“head to toe” adult care) including primary care, hospital medicine, and nursing home care,” said Dumont. “Over the last five years, I have had the privilege of being the physician lead for wellness services at the Medical Center. This has allowed me to write articles and give talks on wellness-related subjects, perform wellness evaluations and consults, perform physiology tests such as lactate threshold testing, and lead group weight-management classes.“
He is also involved in a relatively new initiative. “For the last few years, we have worked with the University of Colorado to bring some of their wellness services to Estes Park. One of these offerings is the State of Slim, a 16 week class-style program which focuses on research-based nutritional changes, daily exercise, and attention and teaching with regard to the importance of mindset in order to help individuals achieve long-term lifestyle changes to help manage weight for life,” said Dumont. “I have been privileged to work with the researchers at the University of Colorado who designed the program to translate this to the Estes Park community and also to be one of the first Estes Park State of Slim coaches. I have been fortunate to witness some amazing people do some pretty amazing things. People have lost weight, jumped from the high dive for the first time, changed careers, become athletes, and even learned to love veggies. It has been a wonderful and humbling experience.”
Dumont is fairly new to trail running. “I have admitted to being a recovering road and mountain cyclist for the majority of my adult life,” said Dumont. “I ‘blame’ the US Trail Running Conference for my transformation, as I still remember heading out to run the Gem Lake trail with my family after the conclusion of the inaugural conference here in Estes Park five years ago. I started running more consistently three years ago and migrated to the trails two years ago.
“In spite of my ever advancing age, I think I have become more of an optimist over time with regard to the amazing things which people can accomplish,” said Dumont. “Trail running and trail racing allow people a venue in which to stretch, whether it be with regard to athletic boundaries or overcoming mental illness or substance abuse or spiritual growth. Perhaps for this reason, trail running seems to play a profound role in the lives of those who have been captivated by it. I have also learned that, in spite of the many miles spent on one’s own on the trails, trail running is a very social endeavor. Connections form quickly and strongly when on the trail. Finally, I have learned the importance, at least for me, of the meditative aspects of being out on the trail. I hope to be able to turn to running for mindfulness and peace for many years to come.”
His favorite distance is the marathon, or beyond. “I am partial to the new Estes Park Epic 50 miler (as my home town race), but my favorite race to date has been the Never Summer 100K. My goal is to find another favorite or two every year for as long as I can,” Dumont said.
Another goal is to complete the Gnar Slam by ATRA member Gnar Runners. “The Gnar Runners out of Fort Collins, Colorado puts on a great series of races. Completing the series of four trail races for the season is referred to as the Gnar Slam, and I am half way through the Slam,” said Dumont. “I have successfully completed the Quad Rock 50 miler and the Never Summer 100K (both excellent!) with the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Trail Marathon still to come. My tolerance for distance seems to keep drifting up. Next season…who knows!”
As well, trail building is a goal. “Working on a trail crew in Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely on my list. I would love to give back to the Park for all of the experiences it has given me,” said Dumont.
Giving back is important to Dumont who has been volunteering at trail and road running races and road and mountain bike races on and off since he was on his first cycling team in college. As well, Dumont has also been a huge supporter of the US Trail Running Conference since its inception five years ago. In fact, this year he will be the keynote speaker.
“I am so excited to be able to participate in the Conference again this year,” said Dumont. “My older son in going to school at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and it is such a great area for running and riding. I am hoping to run with participants during the fun runs and will be racing the 50K on Saturday. In the conference, I will be participating in some of the panel discussions focused on nutrition and recovery and also on increasing diversity within the sport. I will also be giving a presentation on trail running as a panacea (a cure all, if you will). I started my medical school training in 1993. In 25 years, I have seen so much human suffering from disease—physical, emotional, neurological, and social. In this day and age, with all of our technology, we still struggle to really “fix” so much of what ails us as a population. Trail running might just be the ‘magic bullet’ I have been seeking my whole career.”
He adds that the most important facet of the trail running environment is by far, the community. “I never cease to be inspired by racers, volunteers, support crew members, and directors. Trail running appears to be a window into all of the best aspects of humanity.”
Some tips from Dumont for those considering getting into trail running.
Don’t talk yourself out of trying it.
For years, I thought that trail running was only for the craziest of those who were crazy enough to run in the first place. I finally had to just try it.
Don’t feel like you need to run every step.
The variation in the terrain naturally lends itself to a run-walk-run approach, and this is ok.
Start slowly and build up gradually.
Remember that just getting out is a great accomplishment.
Consider joining up with a trail running group.
I have recently started running with Estes Park’s Asylum of Runners. They are all inspirational individuals, and the conversations which naturally start up during the runs have been wonderful. They have also introduced me to so many new trails already. I tend to be a creature of habit, and I might be tempted to run the same trail three times in a week. Running with a group has taken me to trails in RMNP which I had not discovered in many years of hiking in the Park.