I try to stay positive and upbeat in my writing here. Not so much because there’s already too much negativity in the world (even though there is) as that it’s just more enjoyable for me. I get more happiness from trying to be uplifting than by throwing a bunch of angry words onto the internet. I’m about to provide the exception that proves the rule though and go on a bit of a rant. You see I come across a phrase fairly regularly in the trail/ultra media that really rubs me the wrong way – The Beast Coast.
This is used to describe east coast trail running. I’m not sure when or where I first noticed it, but it’s like finger nails on a chalkboard now whenever I stumble across the phrase. It sounds condescending when people from out west use it. As if our mountains could possibly compare to the 14ers they get to play on each weekend. And when people on the east coast use the phrase, it just sounds like they’re trying too hard.
The Beast Coast is an exaggeration where one is not needed. You don’t hear people from the Midwest posturing about where they run. Nor those from down south or Texas. And people from Cali definitely don’t talk about Best Coast running. Every area of the US has great places and races to run whether that be on roads, trails, cities, or mountains.
And frankly, there’s no reason for an east coast runner to feel insecure or ashamed of where we run anyway. The oldest ultra in the US (JFK50) can be found in Maryland. Old Dominion is only a couple years younger than Western States and while the latter race has gone all corporate (presented by Altra!), OD100 is still true to the roots of the sport (i.e. no buckles for finishes over 24 hours). Then you’ve got the longest ultra in the world that’s held on a 1 block course in Queens, NY (Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race). And the last time I checked, the hardest ultra race in the US can be found in Tennessee (Barkley Marathons).
This list isn’t meant to detract from any other region. This isn’t a zero sum game we’re playing. There are awesome races (new and old alike) and places to run all over the world. But I’m proud of where I live, where I train, and where I race. So there’s no need to call it anything other than what it is – The East Coast.
Phil, East Coast Runner