Guest post by Naiya Budler from Manitou Springs, Colorado.
The first day I moved to the small town of Manitou Springs, Colorado, I looked up and I noticed majestic Pikes Peak to the west. “That’s a 14er” my cousin told me, “I’m running a race up to the top.” Who would choose to run up a mountain as fast as they could, just to say they did it!? I thought he was crazy back then…until 4 years later, I ran the Pikes Peak Ascent, too. With more training under my belt, I managed to beat his time.
Now, I love every aspect of running. I love the track workouts that leave you breathless. The climbs that bring you to heights overlooking the city below. I love race day when all my hard work is put to the test. I love all the middle-aged women that parade the start line with water bottles on their waistbands like ammunition. The one guy that still goes shirtless in mid-November. I love that mile one feeling when you feel invincible. I love the ankle twist at mile five that can either make or break your race. I love the feeling of limited oxygen, gasping for air and surveying the competition around you. I love passing people on the uphill, knowing that they will never catch me again. I love the feeling of uncertainty when you don’t know if your legs are capable of taking another step and then you make it another mile. I love the turn around. I love the out of control downhill that may just well leave me with arthritis at the age of 45. I love crossing the finish line, seeing my boyfriend and coaches beaming at me. I love hearing the announcer say “Naiya Budler, Colorado Springs, age 18!”.
I love all of it, and still I am constantly searching for my next adventure. This year the American Trail Running Association sent out a request, for young mountain runners to apply to represent the United States in the Youth Skyrunning World Championships. I figured, this is my calling, I’ve got to try! I applied, gave my cross country coaches as references and I waited. A few weeks later, I was selected! This is a huge honor for me and a life changing opportunity, that I can’t let slip away.
Traveling to and racing in the Youth Skyrunning World Championships would mean the world to me. To travel to Italy and run in the picturesque landscapes while representing my country is a dream come true. For me it means the beginning of a long career of distance racing. A chance to prove myself. A chance to get my name out there and in the running for a spot on the U.S. Mountain Running Team in the next few years. Here in Colorado I don’t very often get the chance to race against people my age from different countries. I expect this international level to be just as humbling as it will be exciting. I will learn many things about myself, about teamwork and about mountain running on a global scale. I’ll get to meet other people like me, passionate people who love running where the air is thin and all you have for company is the occasional mountain goat. In addition to this, I will get a chance to see other cultures and experience what that the pros do when they compete at the world level. It will certainly be a life changing experience and an unforgettable journey!
Thank you for your time, see you on the trails!