Sunday, December 26, 2004

King of the Trail Racers (Half Moon Bay Review)

The folks at the Half Moon Bay Review wrote this nice article on me. Thanks, Mark!

King of the Trail Racers

By Mark Foyer, Half Moon Bay Review, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2004

In a few years, Scott Dunlap went from the rat race to the trail race. In doing so, he has become one of the top trail runners in the nation.

He was named by Trail Runner magazine as the overall champion for the "Non Ultra" distance (marathon and shorter) of their 2004 Trailing Running Trophy Series. It's the largest trail running series in North America.

The running he does now is vastly different from the running around he did more than three years ago. Living in Mountain View, he was working for a software marketing company. Life hurtled by at a million miles per hour. In July of 2001, he started to make some changes in his life. He and his wife left Mountain View, to buy a house in Woodside, near Kings Mountain. The break-neck speed slowed considerably.

But it wasn't until he quit his job on Sept. 8, 2001, a few months later that everything changed. If he had remained on the job three days longer, he would have been in New York, where he had scheduled a meeting at the World Trade Centers. The two people he was supposed to meet that morning perished in the day's events. One died in Tower No. 2. The other was killed on United Flight 93, the highjacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

That day helped change Dunlap's priorities. Instead of running from one interview to another, he would run in the hills and along the trails near his house. Instead of dealing with so many people, he would be running with his dog, a pug named Rocket.

Dunlap had never run before, but it all came very easily. One weekend morning, while out on a leisurely run, Dunlap ran into a group of runners.

"One of them said I run pretty fast and should join them," Dunlap said.

Dunlap didn't have any idea what it meant to run fast. Born in Chicago and raised in Eugene, Ore., Dunlap did not participate in high school sports. Yet, he did well in his first trail race.

"I'm not a runner," Dunlap said. "My dog is not supposed to be a runner either. But we both love to run trails really, really fast."

As Dunlap continued to race, he was starting to make a name for himself. In Colorado, where there are plenty of trails to run on for either fun or races, Dunlap is a minor celebrity in the trail running community.

"They are world class runners, and it's flattering when they buy me drinks," Dunlap said.

The races in Colorado are some of the more difficult races in the country. One race starts at an elevation of 11,800. It goes up 1,000 feet before dropping down 3,000 feet.

"I was dizzy before the race even begun," Dunlap said.

Of course, not all trail runners are impressed with what Dunlap has accomplished. There are some, known as "ultra runners", who run 50-mile and 100-mile races in the mountains. They say running a marathon (26 miles, 385 yards) is just a nice warm up.

"I don't have a concept of what it means to run 50 or 100 miles," Dunlap said, "it's a whole different ballgame at that distance."

Racing has taken him throughout North America. He has run two races in Colorado, as well as in Washington, Oregon, Texas, New York and Maryland. He has also raced in British Columbia.

He's gone back into the software marketing industry. It's almost like it was before he left, but with a change.

"Before when I traveled, I would just see the downtown, the hotel and the airport," Dunlap said. "Now, I spend the weekend visiting the trails also."

While he won the Trophy Series, he didn't actually get a trophy. Instead, he got an array of gear, including clothing and watches.

"It has made Christmas shopping easy this year," Dunlap said.


  1. Is that true? No trophy for the trophy series? Can't you sue them for false advertising? 8-)


  2. I like the local story angle vs the SF Chronicle. Is Half Moon Bay your hometown paper? - JamesR

  3. Hey, Charlie1 -

    Yup, no trophy for the Trophy Series. But to be honest, they never really said that there _would_ be a trophy. I did get a great box of gear as a gift - enough to outfit friends and family.

    I've heard that the Trophy Series will have a much larger prize for next year, although I'm not sure if there will be a trophy. ;oP You can check the Feb '05 issue of Trail Runner Magazine to find out more.



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