The Stump Jump 50k trail race covers trails that total 6,500 ft of elevation gain atop Signal Mountain and Walden Ridge just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee and registration sells out every year. With the jaw-dropping views of the Tennessee River Gorge, coves of cascading streams, hemlock, and rhododendron, the annual October race is renowned for its scenery and great mix of technical and rolling hills and climbing up and down 95% single track trails in the Cumberland Plateau region.
Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Recover’s Sales Manager Ben Prater took on the 50k Stump Jump in his hometown for the first time this year. Our Team at Recover is just as driven during work hours as we are off the clock, and for Ben, the Stump Jump was his “extracurricular” to take on for the past 6 months.
We caught up with Ben in a short interview about getting into outdoor life, the Stump Jump, and his work with Recover…
To start, give us a quick background Ben...
I grew up in Chattanooga and moved to Charlotte in 2010 to attend Davidson College, where I played football. I graduated in 2014 and had a short career in medical sales. I had met Bill (Recover’s President and Co-Founder) through a family friend at Davidson where I first heard about the company. Things fell into place and I started work at Recover 3 years ago.
Have you always been into running and getting outside?
Growing up, my dad was very into trail running, but my time was all about football. I didn’t really develop my own passion for outdoors and sustainability until after college. Through backpacking trips and learning how to rock climb with my brother, I started to really connect with that world. Here at Recover, we try to take advantage of all opportunities to play and explore outdoors even when traveling for work.
When you started learning about sustainability through time spent outside and work for Recover, what really stood out to you?
I’ve focused a good bit of time in learning about different industries and how a lot of large scale manufacturing has created a disaster for our planet. Usually people will consider something like the automotive industry, which is typically known to be bad for the environment, but oftentimes, people don’t think of the textile industry even though it’s the 2nd largest polluting industry in the world. Consumer education in the textile industry is increasing and the fact that Recover and like minded companies continue to research the most environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing can lead the way for textiles and other industries as well.
I have also learned a lot about how broken recycling is in our country and for most of the world. A large majority of recyclables in the U.S. still go to the landfill. By holding companies accountable for their waste and raw materials, we can make recycling work the way it was intended by shifting to recyclables in more supply chains across all industries.
On the ethical side of apparel manufacturing, I am learning a lot as well. There are plenty of documentaries and studies that are widely available that aim to highlight the horrible conditions of clothing manufacturing workers abroad. It feels good to be part of Recover because you know that bringing cut and sew jobs into the U.S. is not only a method for reducing carbon emissions, but it also creates wholesome employment with fair wages and safer work environments.
What else is beneficial about Recover’s local and ethical supply chain?
Even large brands thought of as sustainability leaders manufacture on such a scale abroad that some working conditions have been reported to slip through the cracks. It’s pretty cool that Recover is leading the way for an Ethical Supply Chain, and given the current situation with tariffs and COVID, Recover’s domestic production is advantageous in being able to deliver on products. Being from Tennessee, I’ve spent a lot of time in towns with rich textile history. NAFTA took away many jobs and shut down businesses across the Southeast. Recover is an example of a business that can help the textile industry come back in these communities.
Let’s talk about the Stump Jump 50k! Tell us about it...
The Stump Jump is put on by Rock Creek Outfitters, a well-known outdoor gear store and event production company. It follows the river gorge in Chattanooga. My dad and brother have competed in the race multiple times, and I always had it on my list to join their ranks.
Have you run many races before?
I had run a couple of trail half marathons here at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. When Covid hit, I started casually running and then signed up for the Stump Jump in May.
How was training?
Training was good, but also terrible haha. It was really hot this summer, and sometimes I ran in 95 degree heat if I didn't get up early enough. It was really challenging, and while the Whitewater Center is awesome, it doesn’t present those types of trails with a lot of elevation gain. Next time I will definitely make it a point of emphasis to get up to Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina.
How was the race?
It was amazing. The scenery along the river gorge is truly beautiful. I would say for me, the last 5 miles was more of a hike than a trail run- haha. My dad was a huge help at some of the aid stations, and then the rest of the weekend I got to kick my feet up and drink a couple beers with him.
What are you up to now? Taking a break? Another race?
I’m taking a break for a little while. It was a fun suffer fest and I love doing things like that that push me out of my comfort zone, which are outdoor sports at their corel. I am definitely motivated to do another one. Having done one Stump Jump, it was a learning experience for training to make it to the finish with a faster time on the next round.
What advice do you have for others that may want to do a race for their first time?
When it comes to long distance, know it’s always ok to walk. When I first started training, I had the wrong mindset entirely. I was obsessed with keeping up a fast pace, rather than walking sometimes, which is a great way to give your limbs a break. I would also recommend signing up early because then you have something that says, I’m going to do this even though training is tough. Signing up is something to keep you honest. Also, the Whitewater Center is such an awesome place for Charlotte, especially when places have been shut down, they’ve been doing their best to keep open as much as possible and it’s been a safe place for people to go and get mind off of everything else on the trails. That’s so valuable, especially right now.