Running Rituals: The Inspiration for the Trail Runner System
- Allison Miles
For Timothy, the ritual began early.
It started before the high school growth spurt that melted away his boyish face. It began before he launched into MacGyvering outdoor gear to suit his needs, taking a strap from this, adding a clip from that. Even before he fully understood the strength and renewal he gained from being outdoors, the ritual was there.
Before it all, Timothy ran. And often with Gromit, the family golden retriever, at his side.
[Gromit was an integral member of the family. Timothy sits at far left.]
When he wasn’t running with his high school or college cross-country teams, Timothy and Gromit explored the trails of upstate New York together. As he gathered his running gear, goofy Gromit would launch into a full-body wag and steal his socks, enthusiastically circling around the room with them in his mouth.
The boy and his dog ran to feel crunchy leaves beneath their feet, to experience the flip-on-a-dime weather and to plow through ankle-deep mud when the trails would flood. At the end of every outing, they’d linger at the trailhead and have a drink and a snack before heading home.
“In my mind, a dog is the ultimate running companion,” Timothy says. “They’re always game, no matter the weather. They’re always happy. I’ve spent 25 years — more than half my life — running with a dog.”
Timothy has repeated that ritual over the years with three other dogs — Quinn, Zoe, and now Jake. Today, he brings those experiences to Ruffwear, where he helped design some of this season’s new gear.
The Trail Runner™ System has a unique belt-and-leash-attachment configuration for exploring hands-free with your dog while carrying the essentials. The ultralight Trail Runner™ Bowl holds food or water and easily packs into itself.
[Above, Jake takes a drink from the Trail Runner Bowl. Below, Timothy works on the new Trail Runner Belt in the Ruffwear product development room.]
When running, Timothy says he prefers wearing a running belt to carry water and items like a jacket and snacks. With Zoe, he experimented with ways to keep her on-leash and run hands-free. Hooking the leash to his regular running belt didn’t work well, as Zoe’s pulling moved the belt around. Then he jury-rigged a Thule roof rack strap into a belt just for leashing Zoe. But he was wearing two belts while running.
These experiences helped inspire the Trail Runner System. The leash attachment is configured in such a way that the belt remains snug even if the dog pulls. There are enough pockets to also carry your keys, snacks, water and other gear, functioning as one system that’s ideal for hikes and runs with your dog. And it includes a bottle holder and BPA-free water bottle.
[When out on a run with Jake, Timothy carries his essentials — keys, cell phone, snacks — in the Trail Runner Belt, part of Ruffwear's new Trail Runner System.]
Zoe, Timothy says, was his adventure dog. As a young pup, they built up from short runs to longer journeys. The culmination may have been a 36-hour adventure in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. They took off from a trailhead one summer evening and ran in the darkness, surrounded by the sounds of their footfalls and the woods at night. At roughly 4 a.m., Timothy paused on a mossy hill and nestled in for a catnap. Zoe never slept. She stayed alert by his side, surveying the forest.
That morning, the sun rose through lingering clouds in the valleys below and the two grew warm in the daylight. It was one of those special moments shared with a best friend.
[Above, Gromit watches the new addition to the family, Zoe, launch off a dock in upstate New York. Below, Zoe poses regally after a swim on one of her last outings with Timothy before she passed away in 2016.]
As she aged, Zoe stopped pulling on runs. She trotted at Timothy’s side until 2016, at age 13, when she no longer could.
Now, Jake has taken up the mantle. They explore favorite spots in Central Oregon together. Jake loves hitting the mountain biking trails so he can bound over the obstacles, and Timothy’s favorite is a loop that, if timed just right, provides a view of the sunrise or sunset framed by the Three Sisters peaks.
[It's part of the ritual — Timothy and Jake pause for a drink after a trail run.]
And at the end of each run, they climb into the bed of Timothy’s truck for water and snacks. It’s tradition.
Shop for the Trail Runner System and other gear at ruffwear.com. We love to hear about your adventures! Share your stories with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas, please don’t hesitate to bark.
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