Optimizing The Trail Run – Cornering

For me, the most exciting part of the trail run/hike is the downhill jog. It’s not so much the jog as it is the cornering aspect. I’m a fan of Rally Cross and Formula One racing, so I suppose that’s where I developed my technique. Basically, the goal is to be able to take a corner, switchback, or turn with the greatest of speed. Slowing down costs energy, and if you’re one to keep track, time. Plus, there’s no better feeling than exiting a turn at the same speed that you entered.

Ok, lets get to it. There are three parts to a turn. The entry, apex, and exit. The entry and exit is self explanatory. The apex is the highest point in the turn. Think about the apex being the tip of an arc and the entry and exit the base. The goal is to smooth out this arc as much as possible so that you’re not taking too sharp of a turn (where you’ll be shaving off speed) or too shallow a turn (where you go too fast and risk going off trail or crashing into the mountain).

The apexThe green line represents the most beneficial line to take. It also represents the proper positioning that one should be in. The yellow line is what happens when taking the turn too late. You’re forced to slow down to take the corner. The red line is taking the corner too shallow.

To get into this turn, you need to set yourself up on the outside and then cut the corner at the proper point. The apex should take you as close to the inside of the turn as possible. In the exit, you should aim for the outside of the track and try to keep as smooth a line as possible.

If you get a good line at the entry, after you hit the apex, you’ll more than likely be able to punch the “accelerator” and get some good exit speed. Also, be aware of the next turn and set yourself up properly for that. However, sometimes it’s you need to make your turn a little late as is shown in turn 1 of the “Fast” track. This is necessary to slow you down enough so that you’re setup for turns 2, 3, and 4.

The next turn

As far as hairpins go, it’s the same principle, only applied to a 180 degree turn.

The hairpin

Walking pretty much neglects these principles since forward momentum can be stopped any time. It’s when you jog or run down the mountain that this helps. But if you’re just walking, give it a shot. For me it’s a good game to play in my head when I’m alone or just not in the talking mood.

Here are some videos that demonstrate what I’m talking about:

This one has some good 180 examples:

Related posts:

Layman's Guide to Hiking - Pace
The 10 Essentials
Verdugo Mtn Trail Run

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at 1:00 am and is filed under John's Guide to Hiking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Optimizing The Trail Run – Cornering”


Taco April 17th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Don’t late apex near Yucca.


Eriik May 19th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I’ve heard people complain about mountain bikers on the trail… haven’t heard anyone get flattened by a trail runner. Yet.

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