The trail beard... love it or hate it. Respect it.
So I received a strange email during the week… Will a beard make me run fast? At first I thought ha ha very funny. I’ve seen quite a few beards emerge on the trail running scene over the past year or so, Bearded Siblings :), the Bearded Jogger, BigBeards etc etc. I know some of these bearded dudes and they are fast, strong and tough, some of them have been sporting beards since pre-school… so its not a fashion statement, I think.
So getting back to the email, obviously a beard will not make you fast, the Kenyans are beardless, Thabang Madiba is beardless, Bernard Rukadza is beardless, Christiaan Greyling is beardless, yes AJ Calitz has a beard (for now) but he was fast before the beard. Growing a beard will not make you fast, the trail beard might make you look tough but then again… the Don (Iain Don Wauchope) is tough and he is beardless, Ryan Sandes & Ryno Griesel are tough and beardless.
Growing a beard is an artform. It takes plenty of planning, time and patience to grow the perfect beard. The perfect trail running beard is an asset actually. I am beardless, but for me to even attempt a trail beard, I had to look at the value of the trail beard:
- EXPERIENCE. Yes the trail beard makes you look like a seasoned veteran.
- COLD. In winter the trail beard will protect your face against the cold.
DUST. Beards collects dust, this dust can later be used to build a hut in the woods, should you need to build a hut.This theory needs to be tested…
- HYDRATION. Soak your beard in water before your run and you will probably make it to the first water point withou being thirsty. Simply squeeze your beard into your hand whenever you need water.
- NUTRITION. Store some of your energy bar, cereal, banana or gel in your beard for later.
- PROTEIN. The beard will easily trap insects for consumption later on the trail.
- BLIKSEM. The trail beard gives the appearance of tough, so rampokkers wont mess with you on the trail. They will probably pick the shaven guy.
There are plenty of bearded trail runners who wear the beard with pride and treat it with the respect it deserves – Anton, Timothy, Rob, AJ, Rae, Jan, Leon & Kane are all bearded ambassadors of trail running. All in all the trail beard has value, it wont make you fast or tough but it can prove to be an asset if applied correctly and with respect. So whatever… grow a beard, test it, respect it, wear it with pride. Become part of the bearded society. Who knows it might even make you run faster.