Admittedly, I was not a fan of using trekking poles for ultras but this summer after tying them out and instantly falling in love with them, I am singing a completely different tune.
Trekking Poles For Ultras
My reasons for never trying trekking poles for ultras were many. I thought they would cumbersome and clunky to use. I didn’t want to have to carry any extra weight if I was not using it. The idea of setting them up and breaking them down constantly did not seem like a lot of fun either.
However, after hearing Bob Africa speak about them… well, I listened, and I ordered a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Trekking Poles on EBay and anxiously awaited their arrival.
The day I tested them I did a double crossing on Aspen Mountain. I ascended the Aspen side without them and then descended the backside, down Midnight Mine Road without them as well. On the return trip is when I chose to use them as I figured I could do an almost instant comparison to how my workout was going without them and then with them.
I am sure everyone will have different results as we are all an experiment of one, but I was instantly and completely amazed. I took to using them like a duck to water and if I had to guess, by using the poles, the five-mile climb back up was around 15% easier on the legs.
Descending the mountain with them on the trip home was when I completely fell in love though… Once I figured out the correct rhythm for me and my stride… running down the mountain was at least 20 times more fun and enjoyable.
Not wanting to go into all of the details but they were worth their weight in gold this year for me in Leadville. I used them on Hope Pass, both ways, the climb out of Twin Lakes on the inbound, and really, most of the trip to the finish in town.
Why did I use them so much? Well, to be honest, I LOVE RUNNING WITH THEM. Again, this is just me but running with them and using them correctly is just a lot of fun for me.
So if you have ever wondered about using trekking poles or using trekking poles for ultras – I say go for it. At least experiment. Admittedly I feel a little sheepish for waiting so long to give them an honest shot but from here on out trekking poles will always be in my quiver of ultra running tricks.
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photo credit: Black Diamond