Ask the Goat: Who are the dirtbag runners?

Chances are, if you do your fair share of trail running, you’ve heard the term dirtbag used more often as of late.Dirtbag 02

Maybe you’ve been asked if you were a dirtbag? Maybe you are a dirtbag. To end the confusion, and since the largest prevalence of dirtbag runners is on west side of the Mississippi, let’s do a quick recap of who these runners are, what they do, and why they have been dubbed ‘Dirtbags’ at all.

Ask the Goat by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

If searching the trails for dirtbags, you can start with the parking lot at the trailhead. Scan the vehicles and see if the telltale signs of dirtbaggery are present. Pre-1990 Volkwagon anythings, busses held together with Duct tape and National Park stickers and any vehicle that clearly shows evidence of serving a lodging function are the first indications.

If found, you have just verified the presence of dirtbags. To identify this species of runners in their trail habitat, look for some distinct physical and apparel attributes. Trucker hats or buff adorn the head, usually over a cascading wave of hair. Faces are tanned, with the males often heavily bearded. Regardless of climate, a flannel shirt is worn or often with the males, no shirt is worn at all. Tattoos are fairly common on both genders. Shorts are rarely tech material, in favor of cutoff denim or retrofitted combat gear. Shoes, if worn, are most-often Luna sandals.

Dirtbag gear is minimal, with a handheld bottle being the most omnipresent choice. Hydration packs, GPS watches and virtually anything with a battery is left behind. There is an overwhelming appreciation of rugged trails, altitude and fell running. Many dirtbags have left the constraints of society, culture and employment behind; in fact, many have decided that a residence is simply where you sleep that night.

Dirtbag 03In my travels through the US, I have been fortunate in meeting many of the dirtbags. They are about as much ‘at peace’ as I have seen; but when often compared to modern “hippies,” I tend to disagree. Other than a rampant love of running natural environments, I have witnessed personalities, ideologies and creeds that literally span the gamut. They simply share a micro-cultural adaptation to conventional economic limitations. They live cheap, impact less and live more than the average person.

My hat’s off to the dirtbag runners, and although I don’t do trucker hats, I look forward to leaving a few footprints on the trails with you. I’ll be the kilted and tattooed runner in the sandals and buff.

For more information on dirtbag bios, events and writings, make sure to check out Crista Scott’s “Dirtbag Runners” blog.

Chris Knodel is a Mangum Track Club member and Sandhills Region native. He is the author of “More, Better Quicker – The Irish Goat: A Fat-Boy & His Path to Ultra-Distance.” His column will appear each Thursday on

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

You might like:

M. Bishop sinks putt for Mixed Division playoff win M. Bishop sinks putt for Mixed Division playoff win
Von Hagel wins drawing for Pixel Von Hagel wins drawing for Pixel
Application period open for club sponsorship Application period open for club sponsorship
S. Farris wins Player of the Year S. Farris wins Player of the Year
© 2024 All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.