Q&A with Birmingham’s Zach Andrews

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New Balance and RootsRated have teamed up to profile runners making a difference in their communities. We asked each of our runners a series of questions to learn a little more about what running means to them, where they like to run, and what are some of their running goals.

A good fastball led Zach Andrews to running. From 2004-2008, Andrews was an All-American pitcher for the University of Montevallo. After getting married in 2010, Andrews, looking to stay active and adventurous, started trail running. After just a few weeks of running Andrews registered for the Black Warrior 50k in Double Springs, AL. Up until that point he had never run further than a half marathon. A few months later he finished the race and fell in love with running trails. Today, he thrives on the adventures he finds in 50k and 100-mile races.

Favorite trail?

My go-to trail is probably the Blue Trail in Oak Mountain. It’s right in my backyard and has some great views. I have a habit of running up to King’s Chair, which offers the one of the best views in Birmingham.

Do you belong to any running groups?

I am an active member of the Birmingham Ultra Trail Society and help organize races, events, and social runs. The BUTS is a running group created to introduce people to trails. We say, ‘Hey road runners there’s a brand new world out here on the trails.’ There’s a lot to offer trail runners in Birmingham. There are trails at Oak Mountain, Red Mountain, Ruffner Mountain, and the Preserve. We have four great trail systems that go unnoticed in the running community. We want to share the sport and the trails we love. When you are with the group, it feels like family. It’s ridiculous how supportive they are.

I also participate in the Alabama Outdoors "Tuesday Night Trail Runs" social runs almost every week. When I'm not racing or on an adventure, I spend a lot of time volunteering and helping out at the local races.

Do you run in the morning or after work?

I’m up every morning at 4:30 or 5am, but I love the idea of chasing sunsets so I’m more of an evening runner.

Treadmill Yes or No?

I won’t set foot on one. I don’t run for fitness, I don’t run to stay in shape. It’s all about the adventure. The treadmill is my enemy for life.

What is your favorite piece of gear?

I have a few favorite handheld water bottles plastered with my favorite running company or sponsor stickers. I never leave home without a handheld at my side. Usually filled with plain water.

Do you listen to music when you run?

I don’t listen to music when I run and probably never will but when I’m hitting a low spot I’ll think of a popular pop song. I was in a very low spot at the Grindstone 100 somewhere around 2-3 am around mile 40. We had already been up for 18-19 hours. The race started at 6am. The Taylor Swift song, “Shake it Off” came into my head. I sang that song out load running down a dark dirt road at 2am in the morning. Before I knew it I was back on pace and everything is working like I wasn't in the pits of hell 5 minutes before. For me, finding a rhythm and a pop song helps me work through it.

What is your favorite post race approach to recovery?

After the finish line, I immediately look for a craft beer. Either a friend will hand me one or I’m going straight for my cooler. My buddy and I end every Saturday morning long run with a beer no matter if it’s at 9 or 10am. That’s just the way it works.

Bucket list races?

The two main races I’d love to race are the Hardrock 100 and UTMB (Ultra‑Trail du Mont‑Blanc). The Grindstone 100 supposed to be one of the hardest races east of the Rockies so I wanted to go and knock that one out. The Hardrock is one of the hardest races in North America. It’s beautiful out there and one day I hope to win that entry lottery.

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