Mark Finster, organizer of The Latigo Trail Society, hosts bi-weekly trail runs right here in LA, in partnership with Outdoor Voices. Below, Mark tells about his recent "long weekend" trail racing, living the #vanlife and enjoying the outdoors.
This could be the start of your next adventure, too. Check out The Latigo Trail Society Strava Club and join them on local trails (and for post-run coffee too!)
"With trail running, I finally discovered an ideal excuse to explore more of the American west. Places I’d long dreamed of visiting during my early 20’s - from deep Cascade backcountry, to Wile E. Coyote’s Utah desertscapes - were suddenly far more accessible with the rise of “adventure racing.” Building long weekends around such events has become a kind of specialty of mine. As I get older (and my races longer), my list of “must-have” creature comforts grows each year. Getting a full night’s sleep, eating well, and taking a hot shower each day are all Mission Critical.
I’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for traditional “car camping” - but there’s just an unavoidable level of grogginess that comes from your average night of tent sleep. So I was tickled when Texino Campers reached out last year, asking if I’d be interested in outfitting their mega-rad campervans with quality coffee. Timing was ideal, as my trail running posse had just registered for our first-ever 50k Ultra with Vacation Races near Zion National Park. Texino created a neat little outpost in east Los Angeles, with an eclectic lineup of “Vanogans” ranging from modern Sprinters to vintage Westfalias - all available for short-term rental.
Four days to journey across the desert with my girlfriend and our trail-loving crew. The adventure was set. After weaving through the Virgin River Gorge, our luck was on full display. Every “established” state campsite was either fully booked or closed for maintenance, so we tried our luck up fireroads in the midst of BLM country. We stumbled upon a jaw-dropping site, perched atop a canyon rim with red rock views, thousands of Joshua trees in full bloom, and a little fire ring to boot.
It’s a strange feeling - pulling up to your campsite without the traditional “laundry list” of tasks: no tents to set up, no pads to inflate, nothing to unpack. Instead, we explored our natural resort on foot and took turns howling into the canyon, listening as our echoes swirled around like water draining a bathtub. Later on, we dined together with real cookware at a real dinner table - and had a real kitchen sink to clean everything up with. It was divine. Another literal game-changer was our ability to park (and sleep) just a stone’s throw away from the race starting line.
The race surprised me with sweeping panoramic views of the entire Zion perimeter, top-notch aid stations and the sporadic course markings- how we stayed fully on course, I'll never know.
But in the end - after all the training, logistics and anticipation - the thing I was least prepared for was how much I’d grow attached to our vans. The home (away from home) will be a part of our next adventure."
Join Mark and the Latigo Trail Society on the trails at their next meet-up on Friday June 7th, www.strava.com/clubs/latigocoffee-run