In high school, Alison Bryant loved track only the distances were never long enough. Then in college, there was the 10,000-meter and she loved it. Through it, she went to three NCAA DI championships and received two All American honors. After college, she spent her weekends picking up extra money in road races, competed twice for the USA in road competitions, and qualified for the 2008 Olympic marathon trials. She was quite a roadrunner to say the least. In December of 2007, her husband, fellow La Sportiva Mountain Running Team member Jason Bryant, took her to the park to run trails. She made it 400 meters on the mountain bike trail and then refused to run any more. Alison then spent the better part of three hours running a 1.25-mile loop on the crushed gravel path.
But the injuries sustained from road running got to be too much. She finally conceded to do some training on trails. In Sept of 2008, Alison had surgery on her right knee. The doctor said, “Stay on the soft stuff.” So she started racing on trails. And she started to enjoy it. It was an internal battle at first as she found her true feelings when a running friend asked if she would still be on the roads if she could. Instinctively, she answered “yes.” Her body was on the trails, yet her heart still pulled her back to the roads.
Then came surgery on the left knee, this time a micro-fracture procedure that stimulates the body to produce a fibrocartilage scar to replace missing cartilage. Again, the doc said stay on the soft stuff.
On a recent morning, Alison was walking toward the trailhead of that same mountain bike trail she had refused to run two years ago when two guys came off the trail carrying large leaf blowers. One of the men said that they had cleaned off the trail for her run. Although she appreciated their labor and that they had cleared out all the spider webs, her heart sank when she saw them. She now had a clean trail with no leaves or sticks or spider webs to negotiate. But then she smiled, realizing what that thought meant. She was no longer at the base of the mountain bike trail out of necessity; she was running it out of desire and for pure enjoyment. A realization right before her eyes; a true metamorphosis – Alison Bryant is a trail runner.