Please welcome our nineteenth American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak, and the seventh in 2018. Mark Garrigan is a trail runner, volunteer, and business owner who ran his first ultramarathon in 2012. That race planted a seed in this 40-year-old from Green Bay, WI, to pursue a dream to build a trail running community in his home state.
Wrote nominator, and Mark’s wife, Katelyn Garrigan, “Mark’s big goal is to bring people together to run on trails. That message is all over the nurun co. website, which he designed, and it really drives every decision he makes. Mark enjoys introducing people to trail and ultra running and he is always very excited to welcome new trail runners to his races. He puts on training runs leading up to this events and is always there to answer any questions or help runners with their concerns.
“As a race director, Mark’s appreciation for everyone who runs his races starts with a hand written thank you note sent to them after they register,” continued Katelyn. “His appreciation continues with the pre-race welcome, a personal congratulation to each and every runner that crosses the finish line, and encouragement to those unable to finish. Besides planning and directing races and other trail events, Mark also designs all the logos and graphics for T-shirts, medals, signs, and the website. To say he puts his heart and soul into this would be an understatement.”
Garrigan put his skills from 14 years as a web designer to good use in his current occupation as the owner of nurun co., which he formed in 2016. This expectant father of baby number two next month, started trail running for one reason. “I got into trail and ultra running because of… a girl,” said Garrigan. “I met her at my former place of employment and it just so happened she was on a relay team for a 50 miler. Since the team was full, I thought it would be a good idea to tell her I was running the solo event. Little did I know, I would not only fall in love with and marry that girl, I would also fall in love with a sport I didn’t even know existed.”
Since his passion was ignited for trail running, he has completed a variety of races from marathon distance to 100 miles. What he found in the sport was an endless supply of inspiration, encouragement, and optimism. “It’s amazingly obvious how awesome the people in the trail and ultra community are,” said Garrigan. “So nurun co. was started to connect and grow this awesome community through trail and ultra running events. Our mission is pretty simple: Bring people together to run on trails.”
nurun co. presently organizes two trail races with two more in the works for either 2019 or 2020. The first race, the High Cliff Ultra, is in its third year and the Black River Trail Classic celebrates year two in 2018. The Charity Bibs program is a special component of nurun co. races. “This is the second year of our partnership with Bigger Than The Trail, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is using trail running to advocate for mental health,” said Garrigan. “When runners participate in our Charity Bibs program they receive a complimentary entry to the race and also raise money for Bigger Than The Trail.”
Giving back is important to Garrigan, whether through his events, or as a volunteer. “One of my first volunteer jobs was at the 2016 Hardrock 100. I decided to start volunteering with a bang,” said Garrigan. “Volunteering is such a crucial part of our sport. The best part is simply knowing you’ve helped people achieve a goal. Many times your happiness and success at a race is due to the efforts of a handful of people whose name you’ll never know and you may never meet again. Knowing that there’s a volunteer waiting at the next aid station to encourage and support you is often what keeps us moving.”
Trail maintenance is a big goal for Garrigan in the coming years, “As our family grows and gets a little older, I’d love to combine trail work with family camping and exploring.”
Garrigan shares what he has learned from the sport, “Success isn’t always measured by when, or even if, you finish a race. Success can often be measured by each step you take on the trail. It can be fleeting and it can be enduring. Regardless of what success means to you or how you measure it you’ll never achieve it unless you try.”
His advice to someone considering getting into trail running or racing is to, “Jump in as soon as possible. I think most people, even the most introverted people like me, have a pretty easy time fitting in with trail runners. If you’re not ready for racing, find a friend or small group and spend some time on the trails. Being involved as a volunteer is another great way to get into trail running.”
Join Garrigan when he hosts the second High Cliff Ultra training run on July 14. “These runs are free,” offered Garrigan. “I love helping runners learn the trails and get a little experience on the course before the race.”
If you miss this month’s run with Garrigan, the High Cliff Ultra is August 4 and the Black River Trail Classic is October 20. Then there’s always the annual Black Friday Fun Run in November to celebrate the outdoors, run trails, and eat donuts.