“Throw pace out the window and go run in pretty places. You won’t regret it.”

Derek Lee

Bio: I’m a Fayetteville Native, a husband to Erin and Father of a 6 year old named Isaiah, and a 1 year old named Josephine. Surviving Cancer is a part of who I am and what drives me. Makes me super thankful for the ability to run now. Chemo and recovery from chemo took me out of running for a little over a year.
What do you do for a living? I’m a Physical Therapist and co-own Rise Physical Therapy with two locations in Fayetteville.
What types of running do you do? I run both road and trail. If you count pushing a stroller a different kind of running, then I do that too.
How long have you been running? I have been running since the 7th grade when I joined the cross country team in Jr. High
Running groups or clubs that you’re affiliated with? The Mustache Running Club & Ozark Trail Running Club
Favorite Post-Run Meal? It’s hard to beat a good burger and fries after a hard race, but basically anything with carbs.

What brought you to Northwest Arkansas?

I was born and raised here in Fayetteville. So I guess you would have to trace that back to my parents who immigrated from Taiwan to Bolivia when they were both kids, and then from Bolivia to Arkansas so my dad could attend the University of Arkansas. I grew up here, and have watched this place grow and transform. Lived in Missouri for a bit during grad school, and then Dallas for a bit while finishing up clinical rotations. But couldn’t wait to be back in NWA.

How did you get started trail running?

Probably my first introduction to trail running was in high school training on Markham Trails, and some out at Lake Fayetteville. Went through most of college and grad school just running roads and moved back to Fayetteville and my wife and I signed up for the Inaugural Kessler trail run. Started dabbling in it here and there, and found myself gravitating more towards trail over the years.

Why do you participate in trail running?

Racing and training on road is fun, but the constant hard grind is tough mentally. I’d say in the past 2 years or so I have noticed that sometimes hard road runs, or races were not as relaxing as I needed it to be. But each trail run I got it was so much more life giving. I was able to really recover from life stress while on the trail. My wife could even tell I was way happier coming home from a trail run than a road run. Even harder runs where Im really trying to push the pace, I don’t get as anxious or stressed like I would on road.

Always taking place on National Trails Day, the first Saturday in June, this years War Eagle Trail run did not dissappoint. As the only trail race allowed at Hobbs State Park with proceeds benefiting the Rogers Lions Club and Friends of Hobbs State Park, runners gathered to run a 10k, 25k, or 50k fueled by some of the best aid stations and volunteers North West Arkansas has to offer.What is your favorite place in Northwest Arkansas to run?

I love running out at Hobbs if I can make time to get out there.

What running ambitions do you have for yourself in the next year? These could be personal goals, races, trip plans, etc.

I’d like to do a 50 miler some time. Not sure if it will be next year or not. Getting a 100 miler is definitely a life goal id like to achieve in the next 5-10 years. But I would like to get more time on more of the trails in NWA. We have a ton to offer here, and I want to be able to take advantage of it all. I think there are a lot of places Id love to go and run, but sometimes feel a bit more intimidated traveling through areas where I may not feel as welcomed, not being white. Nothing gets you to pick up your pace like seeing confederate flags on cars and flag poles as you run out in the middle of nowhere.

If you could only run one OZ Trail for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I think I could run out at Kessler and be totally content. It is so close to me and offers enough terrain variation and mileage and elevation that I could keep myself pretty entertained.

What encouragement would you give to someone in our community who is thinking about getting into trail running?

Trail running may seem more intimidating. Throw pace out the window and go run in pretty places. You won’t regret it.