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Chamonix, Madeira, Thailand, and the Colombian Sierra Nevadas. What do these 4 places have in common? Yes, they are all incredible outdoor destinations but what ties them together is they are all destinations that Irish Trail Running Camp company Trails and Roots offer to their customers.
After attending the Colombia Trail Camp in February we became curious to know more about how this international trail-running tour company came to be and who was behind it! So we sat down with Trails & Roots founder Heather Gordon to discuss just that!
Back in 2019, the idea of a running camp popped into Irish woman Heather Gordon’s mind. Following her experience competing in a couple of self-supported multistage races, she felt drawn to create something similar. Heather loved the community that these races created, and how she was able to experience a new place through running. As an avid traveller, Heather felt driven to combine this feeling of community with her passion for travel, adventure, and plant-based food. “I tossed around various concepts and ideas and eventually launched Trails & Roots in late 2019.”
Heather wanted to take the multistage race model and make it more accessible. “So I created Trails & Roots with these core values in mind: exploring a new place on two feet, adventure, sharing a unique experience with others, and connecting with like-minded people from all over the globe.” As a plant-based athlete, Heather wanted to use the camps as a way of introducing people to this way of eating. From our personal experience on the Colombia Trail running camp, the food served was a catalyst for conversation much like time spent on the trail. We were surprised when we found out that the vast majority of attendees at the Trails and Roots Colombia camp were not vegan. They were simply mindful of what they put in their bodies.
At the Chamonix & Maderia Trail Camps, campers are treated to some delicious plant-based food, lovingly prepared by professional chef Lily. Heather says that, “Many of our repeat customers come back just to be fed by Lily again, her food is amazing! Sitting down each evening around our group dining table, sharing Lily’s food and chatting about our daily trail run is the highlight of Camp for me – bringing people together through food and adventure.”
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“Simply put – I follow my curiosity!” Heather told us, “I travel a lot and always scope out potential locations for running Camps. It takes a really long time to put a Camp together. Organise routes, logistics, teams, schedules, and activities – the list is never-ending. I had the idea for Trail Camp Thailand and began working on it almost a year before it was ready to be launched.” Thailand is the fourth camp that Trails and Roots will do this year. Based in Chang Mai which was the home of the World Mountain Running Championships in 2022. If the Trails and Roots Instagram is anything to go off it looks like it will be a pretty incredible trip!
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“It is a work in progress!” Heather remains ambitious about the future of Trails and Roots but she doesn’t want it to outgrow itself. “I don’t want Trails & Roots to grow for the sake of growing, I want to maintain our high standards and the personal service that we deliver to each of our Campers so that they want to join us for another Trail Camp adventure in a different location.” The individual experiences of the campers are really important to Heather, she loves it when the camps serve as a medium for growth. “It is so rewarding for us when our Campers connect with each other during Camps. They create new friendships, achieve running goals they didn’t think were possible and learn something new about themselves and the world around them.”
Heather wouldn’t tell us about future running camp destinations. However, she does hope “that Trails and Roots can add a couple of new destinations to our offering over the coming years! Watch this space!”
By Matthew McConnell
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