Running Up For Air – An event to support improved air quality

This article by Peter Downing appeared in the winter 2018 issue of our Trail Times newsletter. Downing was honored as the December 2018 ATRA Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak.

Air – can’t live without it; and you sure can’t run without it. And if you live in or near a big city, you also know that your winter air is often downright lousy; looks bad, tastes bad, and is no doubt bad for your health, and your running.

Lucky you, there are now opportunities for you to turn your running into a way to improve your air. Yup, you can join a “run uphill for air” event. Yes, Running Up for Air is really a thing. Actually it’s a few things, and it’s now in both Utah and Colorado.

Running Up For Air (RUFA) began as a mountain endurance event created by ultrarunner Jared Campbell to raise money in support of the fight for improved air quality for those who live along the Wasatch Front in Utah.

RUFA was born out of the desire to do something about that nasty air, a passion for the mountains, and to improve the quality of life for families and friends. RUFA now attracts hundreds of runners and raises thousands of dollars for Breathe Utah, a Salt Lake-area nonprofit that works to improve air quality.

In winter 2018, RUFA expanded to the front range of Colorado, another metro area “well known” for its unsightly and unhealthy winter air, thanks to a growing population, as well as conditions and topography much like Salt Lake.

Suffer Better, a Colorado-based nonprofit, puts on the Colorado version of RUFA, known as RUFA-CO. Like its namesake, RUFA-CO challenges athletes to run up and down a mountain and raise funds and awareness for improving air quality. Unlike the Utah edition, Colorado runners commit to running for just 3, 6 or 12 hours. And in Colorado, athletes run and fundraise to benefit Protect Our Winters (POW) and their new trail initiative POW Trail.

For 2019, Jared added a second Utah RUFA, RUFA-Ogden. Both Utah editions – scheduled for February 9-10, 2019 – are filling up fast. Likewise, the Colorado version, scheduled for March 9, is seeing a major uptick in registrations. All of the RUFA events are capped, so if you want to put your running to good use, make the most of a winter day in the mountains, join an amazing group of fellow runners, and even scarf down a tasty, hot pierogi or 2 (or 3 or ….), sign-up for an event near you!

As runners, you know running is indeed a gift, something so many of us cherish, as are the special places we get to run. Together we can be a force – a powerful voice – to be reckoned with when it comes to our natural environment. So, come on, run up for air. If we don’t, who will?

RUFA, in both Utah and Colorado, in keeping with its foundational mission, strives to be a green event. That just means that the organizers do everything possible to adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace and limit the environmental footprint.

There will be no cups at the start or aid stations so runners will have to bring and carry their own bottles, which, fortunately, they all do anyway. RUFA events also call on participants to limit their driving by offering shuttles to and from the race site and by encouraging carpooling with fellow runners.

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