Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Michael Langer

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

It's time to feature Michael Langer, who just heard about us one year ago but who has quickly become one of our most frequent fliers. Since picking up one of our cards last April, he's already completed THREE trips with his fourth happening next month!

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Which trips have you done and when?  
Run Tahoe - June 2016, Run Europe - September 2016, Run Morocco: Gorges & Sahara - March 2017

Describe your running background.
I've used up most of my knee cartilage budget by playing recreational soccer for many years. In Nov 2013, my knee decided it had enough and refused to bend any more. Two years later, after undergoing some treatment and therapy, I started my running hobby, mostly on trail. I run once or twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday night) with a local trail running group TrailZen, and run in races around Austin on most weekends, usually a 10K or a half. Recently, I have also joined Gilbert Gazelles running program, with running workouts on Monday and Wednesday at 5:30am. I now run 4-5 times a week on average, for a weekly mileage in the twenties.

How did you end up on your first Rogue Expeditions trip? What led you to the decision?
I got a Rogue Expeditions post card in my race packet for the Rogue Trail Series, and it was love at first sight. Sightseeing through running hit me as something that would be a great fit for me. There was a bit of trepidation at first, so I started small with a US-based trip (Lake Tahoe), and it completely blew me away. It was the best vacation ever!

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
I was afraid someone could be mean to me on the trip, and in fact, that came within one coin flip result of coming true on the Run Europe trip - there was a cop on it. Fortunately, he turned out to be a good cop, not a bad cop, a 50% chance (Hi, Scott!).

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
I did not know anyone else in the group beforehand on my first trip (Lake Tahoe). That turned out to be such a great group of people - I wish I had known them longer! The ice was broken, crushed, and melted the first night after dinner when Cards Against Humanity came out. We all keep in touch now. From the second trip on, I already knew Gabe and Allison and looking forward to meeting them at the airport in some far away place. They looked so confident and at ease, no matter how exotic the environment! I would be immediately whisked away to our destination. A wink and a nod to a local boy, and an open parking space magically appeared in a busy city center. I felt like I was in a James Bond movie. That confidence was contagious!

What was your favorite run in each destination and why?
Flume trail in Run Tahoe, the run down and around beautiful Lake Bohinj in Run Europe, and the long run (up and over the crest, through majestic gorge, and down to a palm valley) in Run Morocco.

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favorite thing that you ate in during each trip?
Every day the food was great in Run Tahoe and Run Morocco, but in Run Europe it was just unbelievable! One day we got to a restaurant around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We didn't know what we were in for. Every half an hour, they will bring us a new huge dish (served with a special kind of wine that was appropriate for it, of course), and the chef will come out and carve it with a huge knife with super-sonic speed. The stand-out for me was a tongue dish, with several different garnishes and 3 different horseradish sauces. Come midnight, we were still at that place, drunk and dancing, the chef leading the way in both departments.

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What has been your most challenging moment or issue during a running trip? How did you overcome it?
In Run Tahoe, there were some cards in that game that I didn't know the meaning of. I was about to google the terms, but my soul (and my online profile) was saved from defilement at the very last second by a fellow runner who took pity on me and whispered an explanation in private. In Run Europe when we were up in the Alps, I finished my run as the sun started setting, and the temperature was dropping rapidly. That's when I realized that I managed to send all my dry clothes down the mountain in a van earlier in the day. As I was shivering and my teeth chattering, Gabe produced not only a huge bonfire, but also a complete set of clothes of his own that he lended to me to save the day. In Morocco, on a narrow mountain path, I figured there is no way a mule could be more stubborn than me. Turned out I was wrong. The mule and I were coming in opposite directions, one of us had to give way, and it was never the mule. I took my chances of being crushed against the wall, rather than being pushed off the cliff, and escaped unscathed.

Pick one trip. What surprised you the most about the experience?
On all three trips, I was surprised about the mileage I could run on consecutive days without any significant hurts carrying over to the next run. Run Tahoe for me was 42 miles total, Run Europe - 58 miles, and Run Morocco - 76 miles. I attribute it to the encouraging atmosphere on all the trips, well thought-out run itinerary, and post run recovery. There was always a cool body of water available to soak your legs in after the run.

Runcation vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
I only run in local races. The only time I spent a night away from home for a race is when I visited someone I met on a Rogue Expedition trip. A race for me is a competitive experience on a Saturday or a Sunday - something that replaced soccer games for me. Vacation is about sight-seeing, while run-cation is sight-seeing on the run. I can care less about the pace. It's all about taking in the sites around you. Run Europe was my favorite trip because of historical sites, museums, and the variety of cultural experiences (oh yeah, there was also food and wine out of this world).

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
Tour bus it is not.