When Ian Golden laid out the groundwork for his project the Trails Collective in 2018, it stemmed from a place of frustration at the inefficiency of national trail logs and the inaccessibility of the larger running community that worked in tangent to seemingly ignore the here-and-now needs of local runners. The Trails Collective thus became an online presence for trail-runners in the northeastern region of the United States. It offers accurate information on local trail events, detailed reviews of running gear from experienced runners, an e-shop for purchasing equipment and a forum for runners to connect without the distractions of other social media platforms. Golden describes his site as “the hope and intent to cover trail-running in a regional-oriented model. It’s a way to create an entity that isn’t just for entertainment.”
Golden has strong ties to Ithaca. Attending Ithaca College for his undergraduate and graduate degrees in occupational therapy where he met his now wife and mother of three daughters, his work was only the natural result of his long-time passion for personal health, particularly running. Golden and his wife returned to Ithaca to raise their children, deepening their local roots even more by starting a small business, the Finger Lakes Running Company, which sells outdoor gear and sportswear.??
In companionship to the Trails Collective website, much of Golden’s daily work revolves around maintaining the organization’s YouTube channel. The channel, which is active several days a week, features interviews with local runners, gear reviews and a series called the “Weekly Rundown,” which reports on results from local races during the week.
“The YouTube channel ended up being a way to just host the content... rather than trying to store it on our platform,” Golden explains, “So somebody could follow the YouTube channel and that would be it, but there’s more to offer on the Trails Collective site.”?
With the onset of the COVID-19 virus, Golden’s small business, like many other local shops in Ithaca, has been financially impacted.?
“As we were going into COVID as a scary reality for a lot of businesses and families,” Golden explains, “there were two friends that did a FundRun to support their running specialty stores up in Rochester. Another friend here, Pete Kresock, had just pulled their model to see if they could use it to support our store. We had a lot of good community support that came out the last day we were open. I was able to keep going even during the shutdown period just doing porch deliveries and phone and email orders. Since we reopened, it’s been pretty good. I am just lucky to be one of the businesses that’s done okay during the COVID period.”
On an even more personal level, Golden and his wife, a healthcare worker, have struggled to find time in their schedules for their children and their passions. “I have three younger daughters and that, I think, became one of the trickier parts: trying to make schedules work. So we were basically still trying to have to work our full-time work schedules with suddenly no caregivers in the mix.”
And despite all of the hours of work Golden put towards getting the Trails Collective off the ground, he lost time to do what inspired his project in the first place: trail-running. “For some people [...] it was kind of the reverse where they were able to run more and, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. Suddenly trail heads were just getting full and overrun and there was a lot more litter on the trails and the impact was just heavier. But for the business side of things, it was a good thing just because there were more people out and active.”
While much of Golden’s life has revolved around an active lifestyle, one he has maintained since he was a child, Golden finds no purpose in trying to convince others to adopt the same way of life.?
“For anyone getting into [running] my advice would be to just be patient,” he said. “Particularly in the beginning, it’s just hard work. It’s not that fun and it’s easy to do it for a spell and then just stop.”?
Golden recognizes the wear it can take on the body and mind to sustain an active habit such as running. He continued, “I think if anyone can find a way to just be consistent and find a time to put it in their schedules then it can take you to some really cool places and you meet some really great people. It’s not about persuasion; it’s just about meeting people where they’re at.”
If you are interested in local trail-running resources, you can visit trailscollective.com.