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Finding Motivation in Imagination

Finding Motivation in Imagination


By Path Projects customer Eric Martinson - On a sticky morning in early August, I pull into the empty parking lot of my local brewery. I survey the rows of open spots and choose the one most protected by shade. A sign hanging on the front door of the taproom reads “CLOSED” proceeded by a list of operating hours that let me know I have a good while to wait before open. That’s okay. Despite what it may seem, I’m not here to be first in line for the latest can release.

Instead, my sights are set on the wooded peak barely visible in the distance. I come seeking height, not hops. Over the next few hours, I will run the long, gradual ascent from taproom door to the top of our town mountain, Mt. Agamenticus. It’s been a while since I’ve run any sort of double digit mileage consistently, so the past months of training have been tailored specifically to this moment. I fiddle with my shoe laces one last time, slap the bourbon barrel bearing the name of the brewery out front, and begin my journey to the summit.   

adventure run path projects

It’s a common practice among runners to seek motivation in racing. We tend to dip in and out of training cycles geared toward completing a race of some preset distance- 5K, half marathon, 50-mile, etc. The goal of finishing said race gives purpose to our running, a reason to get up and out the door on days when we’re feeling sluggish or when the weather might not cooperate.

While it’s true that organized races are magnificent motivators, they’re not the be-all and end-all for developing a training plan and sticking to it. Rather, a little creativity can go a long way in keeping your running fresh. Take Toby Silver's block-by-block project and Rickey Gates’s recent “Every Single Street” project, for example. In an effort to fully experience the pulse of San Francisco, these guys set a goal of running every street in the city. 

Like racing, self-made creative endeavors such as these are incredibly motivating, perhaps even more so because they scratch an itch of local curiosity. When my own running hit an unmotivated rut earlier this summer, the birth of the Suds to Summit Challenge was exactly what I needed to get back on track.              

running adventure path projects   

The idea for Suds to Summit came to me one sweltering June afternoon after yet another subpar run in the Agamenticus wilderness. With no races on the horizon nor any desire to seek one out, sign-up, or pay an entry fee, I found myself struggling for structure in my daily routine. I was enjoying hitting the neighborhood trails, but without something to work toward, it was too easy to take days off or cut runs short. Such was the case that particular afternoon as I had decided to stop soon after starting in favor of filling a growler at the brewery downtown. As I drove away from the mountain, I couldn’t help but feel like I hadn’t really earned the growler fill. I regretted not staying out there for longer, and as I pulled into the brewery and caught sight of the woody summit in my rearview mirror, I felt like the mountain was mocking me. That’s when it hit me.

I quickly grabbed my phone and opened the navigation app. Starting at the brewery, it was a slow five mile climb over quiet backroads to the closest trailhead. From there, it was another four miles of technical New England single track to the top of Mt. A. I began to realize that this nine mile ascent of road and trail might be just the medicine I needed to cure my running blues. If I factored in the return trip, the roughly eighteen mile journey from suds to summit and back would be totally deserving of a celebration in the taproom.

I was so excited that I contemplated attempting the summit right then and there, but I knew to do it properly I would have to be smart and train. With a clear goal now in place, it was time to develop a plan and spend the next eight weeks preparing for what would surely be a welcomed challenge.            

running kendall katwalk trail

The basic guidelines for designing your own home-brewed challenge are simple:

    1. Choose two or more eating/drinking establishments, landmarks, or natural resources that are unique to your area.
    2. Map out a route that connects your predetermined destinations. The more roundabout and obscure, the better. 
    3. Set a time or distance goal for completing the route. You might simply choose to run from point A to point B, or maybe you’ll track how many trips back and forth you can do in 24 hours.   
    4. Decide whether you want your challenge to be a solo mission or a group outing. The more the merrier, but lone-wolfing it also brings about its own sense of accomplishment.
    5. Upon completion, celebrate with an activity specific to one of the locations from Step 1. For example, take a dip in your local lake, get a box of doughnuts at the doughnut shop, or, as in the case of the Suds to Summit Challenge, enjoy a cold craft beer fresh from the brewery.   

summit of mountain running adventure

Standing atop the summit of Mt. Agamenticus, the hardest nine miles behind me, I reflect back on the past two months of training. Early mornings, oppressive humidity, stubbed toes, countless tick checks and black fly bites— these are the marks of summer trail running in New England. I welcomed them all with a huge smile on my face. The goal of completing a challenge unique to the seaside town of York, Maine kept me on the good foot through the dog days of summer.

I take in the grand view of the Atlantic one last time and begin my descent to the brewery. There are no medals or commemorative t-shirts waiting at the finish line, but, at the end of day, none of that matters. Knowing that I am about to wrap up a fun endeavor from my own imagination is all the satisfaction I need. That and a cold local brew.

Have you done any adventure runs (can be anything, from a solo 5k exploration run, to a long ultra adventure), we'd love to hear it! Let us know in the comments below. 
Thanks for sharing your stories guys! 1 winner picked at random is Michael M., congrats on winning a pair of Brim shorts + Torch Base Liner. 



Hi webmaster, Your posts are always interesting.

Jere De Neeve,

Being in the USMC for 20 years, I had to opportunity to travel around the world. Even if it was for a short training trip or a 6 month deployment, I always kept a pair of shoes and hydration vest on me to take advantage to explore. The best was during a deployment to Turkey. If you love history then that is the country to visit. Many times I would drive my car in a random direction for a hour or two, pull over, and just start running. During one particular run I came across a Greek or Roman temple that had crumbled to the ground and been forgotten. Walking through what seemed to have been a pool at one time, I could only imagine the stories of those that had rested there. All I could think was the battle of Troy took place a couple hours northeast of this location. Alexander the Great could have walked these grounds. The seven churches of Revelations are said to be located a couple hours to the south. The Virgin Mary’s final resting home was a couple hours southwest. Here I was alone and standing in the ruins of the what are arguably the greatest empires in human history that no one knows about (or at least cared about). There where no signs, no roads, and no park visitor center. Only by accident, while trying to run to an orchard I saw on the horizon, did I find this site. Just imaging what we can find if we take more chances to head off trail for an adventure.

Stephen Littlewood aka Ultra Flunkie,

Ran around Sunrise in Mt. Rainier Nat’l Park and bagged Fremont Lookout, Skyscraper Mountain and then cross country on a goat trail to the 3 Burroughs. 14ish miles and 4K elevation. Great runventure!


I moved to the Oregon Coast this summer, every run is an adventure here! Everyday a new trail, a new route, and a million unknowns.


Yep! I ran up Mt. Elbert (CO’s highest peak) and it was epic. Most people looked at me like I was insane, but it was one of the coolest things I’ve done!

Collin b. ,

I went on solo/run hike this summer in Glacier Park. I started at the Loop parking lot and power hiked to the Swiftcurrent Mountain fire tower and then ran back down. It was about a 5 hour adventure (stopped to take a lot of pictures on the way up). When I was running down everybody I passed thought I was running from a bear😂.

Blake Owen,

Yes! Going on adventures is my favorite part of running. I’ve been scouting for a while and finally put together the route for my next Banditcross Race. It’s usually a grassroots, neighborhood cyclocross race, but for the first time ever I’m hosting a 5k on the same course. It goes in and around the derelict park surrounding Charleston’s abandoned Old Navy Hospital. It’s basically a Cross-Country Race for adults, with beer handups and an afterparty. I’m putting on through our local adventure social club, the Blue Collar Bandits. Looks like it’ll be going down in a window between hurricanes here in Charleston, South Carolina. You can check it out at

Tyler Roach,

Mapped an out alternate route up to Stack Rock here in the Boise area using the Avimor trail system. Around 13 miles round trip with 3k of elevation gain…. busted out some elk and had turkey talking when we got into the timber. Best part was stopping for breakfast at The Griddle before heading home.

John Lauer,

Any place that we go to visit or take a vacation, I try to get in a few early morning runs before everything “wakes up”. I’m learning to love the early morning run and exploring a new place makes it even better.

Daniel P,

On a recent family holiday to the very scenic Queen Charlotte Sounds (top of the South Island, New Zealand) I planned an 8km adventure run along the Queen Charlotte track – I was very inspired and motivated by the scenery! Very enjoyable run indeed!

Andrew Willcocks ,

Visited some family in Massachusetts and decided to run to the summit of Mt. Wachusett. The elevation gain was well worth the view at the summit.

NateG ,

Ran laps around a local amphitheater in prep for an ultra. Marathon later I was able to relax in the shade of my favorite park in the city.

Brian Wandzilak,

Ran laps around a local amphitheater in prep for an ultra. Marathon later I was able to relax in the shade of my favorite park in the city.

Brian Wandzilak,

When my wife was out of town over Labor Day two years ago, I decided it was a good time to do an overnight run…40 miles on our neighborhood 5k loop washmachine style using my garage as an aid station.

Colin Chapell,

I live in a Chicago suburb. I hound my 2 close friends in the city to get out of the city and go explore the forest preserves and local woods. These guys don’t drive so I pick them up. Always happy awestruck faces when we get in nature. It’s worth every minute.

Oscar R Delgado,

Went for a long hike around scenic lake in Eastern Pennsylvania and picked and ate wild blueberries through out the hike. Was too tick heavy for shorts but definitely helped having the baseliner to help keep me cool.


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