Nathan Schwab took third place in the first race he entered – a 5K about a decade ago.
The trophy was enough to hook him on running, a sport he had only taken up because he wanted to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors. That was enough to make it a hobby – but a little hardware was enough to reward his competitive spirit and make it a passion.
Schwab, 35, of Sioux Falls, fell fast into the local running community.
“I’ve been addicted to running ever since,” Schwab said. “I like the solidarity of going out and running. It’s calming, and my alone time to go and run and think about things and listen to music.”
He mostly listens to indie or alternative music on his shuffle, or runs with a few friends and talks through the miles as a way to center himself from his job as a personal banker for First Bank & Trust and his life with his family – wife, Rachael, and son Brady, 4, and Lily, 2.
“You just feel better after a run,” Schwab says.
He started out doing a few 5Ks and then signed up for a marathon, but he quickly realized that isn’t his distance. “Anything longer than a half-marathon and I start cramping up,” Schwab said. “A half-marathon and under is my sweet spot.”
So when he saw the Newton Hills Trail Runput on by the Sioux Falls Area Running Club with its 6 and 2-mile loops, he signed up.
“I instantly fell in love with trail running,” Schwab said. “I remember running through the forest and loving it. It was nirvana.”
That was in 2008.
Since then, he’s discovered some of the outstanding trails in the area – from the Big Sioux Recreation Area to Good Earth State Park to Great Bear. He was hooked.
Now, nine years later, Schwab and Scott Walschlager with the Sioux Falls Area Running Club are expanding that race series, partly because of the drive and passion of Schwab.
I have always wanted to organize a race,” Schwab said. “This is when Good Earth was in its infancy.”
The Sioux Falls Area Running Club has run the Newton Hills races for more than a decade, and a few years ago began a regular Thursday night group trail run at Good Earth State Park (as well as loops through Sertoma over the years). It was a natural move for the club, which had been best known for its weekend runs from Lincoln High School and its fall kids cross country series.
Trail running was just beginning to take off locally – partly with the growth of Good Earth State Park, the state’s newest park. Dozens of runners began coming to the Thursday runs, many who had never considered themselves trail runners. It was the perfect time for the series to start.
“This will be a club-defining activity,” said Schwab, who also runs on the 605 Running Co. racing team. “This will help us bring some light to some other things the club does.”
Big Sioux Recreation Area
When: Aug. 26
Distances: 2-mile, 4-mile routes
Features: The races start and finish in the same spot and include a few steep climbs. The park offers disc golf, playgrounds and some paved trails if you want to spend the rest of the day there with your family.
Good Earth State Park
When: Sept. 16
Distances: 2-mile, 5-mile routes
Features: The courses both are hilly, but the relatively wide trails and lack of super technical running makes them perfect for those newer to trail running. The visitor center should be complete by then and offer amenities and an interpretive center for families.
Newton Hills State Park
When: Oct. 14
Distances: 2-mile, 10K routes
Features: The most technical of the three races, Newton Hills is a lot of single track with roots and rocks. The 2-mile course has one big hill. The races start and finish near a small pavilion in a clearing. The park has playgrounds, but not near the race course.
See you out there!
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.
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