Highlights from our first 50 issues promoting outdoor recreation in the Midwest.
Our First Issue
Terrain sprang to life with the launch of our website in January 2014, but our first print issue wouldn’t come until that fall, when we hand-delivered 2,500 copies to outdoor retailers in and around St. Louis.
The issue included our cover story on cyclocross — “the most fun you’ll have on a bike while wanting to die” — as well as profiles of the Battlegrounds Mud Run (sadly, no longer operating) and the Matson Hill Park hiking/biking trail in St. Charles County (the first trail built by Gateway Off-Road Cyclists back in 1998). Along for the ride were Trailnet, Alpine Shop, and Great Rivers Greenway, all of which have been advertising partners since day one.
In his editor’s letter, Brad Kovach explained the inspiration for the quarterly magazine’s name: “Terrain. It’s what compels the outdoor enthusiast. Without the hills, valleys, rivers, rocks, roads, and slopes on which we test our bodies and minds, where are we? Probably inside, thinking about being outside.”
‘Railbanking’ on the Future
In our Winter issue, we shared that Ameren had “railbanked” 145 miles of the former Rock Island railroad line stretching from Windsor to Beaufort, Missouri, creating the possibility of a second cross-state hiking/biking trail. “Indications are that ownership will be transferred to Missouri State Parks to become part of the new Rock Island Trail State Park, which will eventually connect with Katy Trail State Park and create an interconnected trail of more than 450 miles.”
Welcome to the Jungle
“Seldom have I felt so spastic as when I was on a crossing where I had to use foot rings, like stirrups, and step from one to the next using nothing but a thin rope to balance my upper body. Several times, as I bobbed awkwardly with my legs randomly splitting and splaying, I wondered if I had accidentally signed up for ‘American Ninja Warrior,’” wrote Kovach in our Spring issue after visiting the new Go Ape zipline and ropes course in Maryland Heights, Missouri.
Raising ’Em Right
Spring 2016 marked the first themed edition of Terrain, this one dedicated to raising the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Articles included where to take kids for safe encounters with wildlife (Lone Elk Park, Wild Bird Sanctuary, Endangered Wolf Center, Grant’s Farm, the Saint Louis Zoo), a look at the family-friendly sport of geocaching, a youth gear roundup, an interview with young paddling phenom Danielle Sartori, and a feature piece on “how to instill in your child a love for wild spaces and ambitious pursuits.”
‘The Expo’ Returns
“If you follow us on social media, chances are you’ve been mildly interested or mildly annoyed (or both) by the hints we’ve been dropping about reviving a ‘big local outdoor event.’ Predictions have ranged from the Tour of Missouri to the Berryman Duathlon to the old Mother’s Day Bicycle Ride organized by the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation. All great guesses, but all wrong. I’m excited to announce that Terrain Magazine will be bringing back the St. Louis Bike Expo, the oldest and largest show of its kind in our region,” said our Summer issue.
We’ve produced the event, now called the Gateway Outdoor Expo, ever since.
The Golden Year
In recognition of Missouri State Parks turning 100 years old in 2017, our Fall issue highlighted a few of the public lands in our backyard, including the newly opened Echo Bluff State Park in Shannon County. “Formerly Department of Justice-owned Camp Zoe, [the land was] acquired in late fall of 2013 and redeveloped with a masterful design of nature and visitors in mind. The new state park is a complete sensory experience. The bluff itself is a scenic masterpiece, overlooking the crystal clear Sinking Creek, and the location offers premier lodging, camping, fishing, and floating on the nearby Current River.”
On the Grow
Terrain became a bi-monthly magazine with our January/February issue. Inside, we interviewed St. Louis native Colleen Quigley, Olympian in women’s steeplechase, who ruminated on returning to the games. “I’m asking myself, ‘If I go again, could I get a medal in 2020?’ In high school, I thought I’d be a professional model. Then, I decided to run track and cross country. In college, I thought I’d become a dietician. Now, I’m a professional athlete sponsored by Nike. The moral of the story is to keep your mind open to options you never ever considered and see where it takes you.”
Five St. Louis Firsts
Who says we aren’t a trendsetting town? The March/April issue of Terrain looked at five outdoor phenomena that got their start in the St. Louis region and went on to inspire imitations on the national, even international, stage: ghost bikes, Tour de Donut, Moonlight Ramble, airplane skydiving, and the American Olympics.
Polo, City Style
“To play polo is to be among the well-behaved sort, pinkies out and the picture of restraint, dressed in collared shirts and starched white slacks with belts. At the end of the day, hands are shaken, Pimms is poured, and tea sandwiches come out on trays. It’s all very refined — as any proper gentleman would insist upon.
“And then there’s St. Louis Bike Polo, proving once again that, with a steady flow of beer and a healthy dose of ’Merican ingenuity, even the most genteel of sports can be turned into a frickin’ awesome time.” —Amanda Christmann from our May/June issue.
Power to the She
Our special women’s issue in September/October included an op-ed piece by marathoner and KMOX radio host Amy Marxkors.
“From a young age, women are trained to spot flaws and to obsess over them. The narrative is ubiquitous, and few (if any) of us are immune to the message. But we can learn to recognize lies from truth and protect the fierce and valiant spirit we had as girls, that we need as women,” wrote Marxkors. “I never feel more feminine than I do when I am running: empowered, uninhibited, brave. The miles eliminate the noise and the nagging and return me to a sacred silence in which I can finally hear the true, spunky, passionate voice that cheered me on when I was young. It cheers me on still: ‘The world is yours. Go get it.’”
Our January/February issue showcased the winners of our first Terrain Magazine Photo Contest. More than 150 amateur shutterbugs submitted entries, which were taken from November 2016 to November 2017. The contest continues to the present day, now commonly drawing between 300 and 400 entries each year.
1,000 Miles for Autism
“I roused from a restless sleep as several inches of water flooded into my cheap Walmart tent. The storm refused to abate as the night wore on. Soaked to the core, I became hypothermic. I shivered violently and waited for the sun to rise. The delirium brought on hallucinations. … The tent door ripped open and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the dead actor, stomped inside. Lightning illuminated his silhouette as rain whipped around him. He wore an impossibly dry, impeccably pressed, black Hugo Boss suit. And he was furious. He criticized my every mistake, and we exchanged some harsh words. In anger, I packed up and paddled into the pitch-black of a swollen, storm-bound river.” —Excerpt from the book “River of Hope” by Joe Reidhead, which chronicled the author’s winter canoe journey on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to raise awareness for those who live with autism.
Readers’ Choice Awards
Our inaugural Terrain Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards appeared in the November/December issue. More than 28,800 votes were cast, raising up your favorite outdoor businesses, destinations, events, and personalities for 2018.
Gateway Outdoor Summit
Our March/April issue reported on the first-ever Gateway Outdoor Summit, created by Terrain and outdoor industry consulting firm Active Strategies. “From the panelists who shared a wealth of lifetime experience to those who are just starting out on an active lifestyle, the opportunity to learn from each other while broadening networks was front and center,” said then Trailent CEO Ralph Pfremmer. “The ideas and connections forged [at the summit] certainly engendered a new camaraderie while setting an important stage for powerful acts of teamwork to come.”
Off to the Races
“The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) has chosen Missouri to host its newest high school mountain biking league, and regional advocates are pumped,” wrote Nick Brennan in our May/June issue.
The Missouri Interscholastic Cycling League now hosts 21 teams across the state, with hundreds of students participating in five annual races and other mountain bike events that emphasize participation, camaraderie, positive sporting behavior, and well-being over competition.
When Lightning Strikes Twice
“During one serendipitous weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time in the company of Bronco Billy, an American Ninja Warrior, and Aquaman. There’s a sentence you don’t get to type very often,” said Kovach in July/August, recounting his visits with elite ultrarunner Jeff Browning, ANW alumn Meagan Martin, and rock climber and actor Jason Momoa.
Renovating Missouri’s Only Velodrome
Also in our July/August issue, we reported on the completion of the $800,000 renovation of Penrose Park Velodrome, one of only 27 velodromes in the U.S. The cycling track in St. Louis was resurfaced in reinforced concrete and now offers a venue for training and racing throughout the year in good weather.
The Katy at 30
“Cyclists and hikers on the Katy Trail encounter a majestic beauty that unfolds as they travel along the Missouri River and its bluffs. Heading west from St. Charles, they pass under canopies of trees that form chapel-like arches in dappled sunlight. Then, the leaves overhead thin and trail users find themselves pedaling or walking next to farmland and pastures dotted with cows. The experience is a rural slice of heaven,” wrote contributor Terri Waters in our January/February issue. “On the Katy, there are no worries about navigating traffic and distracted drivers. It’s open year-round, sunrise to sunset, promising mile after mile of carefree cruising, with charming wineries, breweries, and cafes.”
The Corona Effect
As the spread of coronavirus worsened, state governors began to issue stay-at-home orders and access was restricted to state parks and other outdoor destinations. The pandemic had an immediate impact on our content, from articles on isolation (“The New Normal,” May/June) and socially distant outings (“The Perfect Escape,” July/August) to the widespread cancellation of races and events — even our ads (below).
How We Roll
“Working for 50 cents an hour at Meramec Cycle, his father Velmo Chappuis’ shop in south St. Louis, Jim Chappuis met Olympic cyclists like Joe Becker, who came in for parts and repairs. ‘My dad did all his work,’ said Jim. Almost 30 years later, Jim bought the Bike Center in University City from Becker. It’s this kind of connection you can find all over the bike business in St. Louis. Three quarters of the shops in the region today are still linked in some way to a few owners who got things rolling, starting in the 1930s.” —Janice Branham writing about the St. Louis cycling community in September/October.
BME Comes to MO
Big Mountain Enduro (BME), America’s largest mountain bike enduro race series, announced that it would host its first-ever race in Missouri at the newly completed Shepherd Mountain Bike Park in Ironton. “The caliber of racing and athletes will be the best in the world,” said Brandon Ontiveros, owner of BME. “I tip my hat to everyone in Ironton for bringing us there. The guys on the ground and behind the scenes…have been amazing.”
Events Are Back!
As COVID-19 restrictions started to ease, our online events calendar swelled with marathons, bike rides, trail builds, and more. We decided to jump on the bandwagon with a series of “Terrain & Co.” events featuring collaborations with local outdoor businesses like Climb So iLL, Roots MTB, Go Ape, and Big Muddy Adventures.
St. Louis is Thriving
Our July/August issue shared the transformational news that Outdoor Foundation had chosen St. Louis as one of four communities in its second Thrive Outside cohort. The Thrive Outside initiative awards multi-year, capacity-building grants to communities to build and strengthen networks that provide children and families with repeat and reinforcing experiences in the outdoors.
In a show of resiliency and unprecedented growth coming out of the pandemic, six St. Louis outdoor retailers opened (or neared completion) in late 2021/early 2022: Big Muddy Guide Shop in the Central West End; Field Theory in Webster Groves; Gearhead Outfitters in Des Peres; So iLL Showroom & Shop in The Hill; Bass Pro Shops in Sunset Hills; and REI in Town & Country.
The Mighty Buffalo
In honor of northern Arkansas’ Buffalo River celebrating 50 years as America’s first national river, our July/August issue featured it on the cover. “On the way south, Highway 7 dropped into a sizable valley and crossed a surprisingly high bridge over a bluff-lined river,” Mike Bezemek wrote in the accompanying article. “Being a dedicated paddler with poor time management skills, I did what comes naturally when crossing a scenic and unfamiliar waterbody — ignoring that we were running late, that my wife was hungry, and that dusk was approaching, I screeched to a halt. While she watched me like I was crazy, I began wandering around the darkening area. I yelled out that I’d find info and come right back, but really I was searching for any rapids that might be in sight. From a National Park Service kiosk, I came away with one of those glossy folding maps and the knowledge that there were 150 miles of river to explore.”
Welcoming the RCO Journal
Our September/October issue saw the introduction of a recurring section called the “River City Outdoors Journal.” Named for Terrain’s nonprofit partner organization (see pages 36-41 in this issue), the section covers our collaborative efforts to make outdoor experiences more sustainable and accessible to all St. Louisans.
Investing in Infrastructure
“It could mean constructing a public greenway that allows people to walk, bike, and access public transit, [like] in St. Louis,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was quoted as saying in our May/June issue, referencing the new Brickline Greenway and federal assistance for infrastructure to reconnect communities.
Building A Greater Marathon
From our September/October issue: GO! St. Louis; Greater St. Louis, Inc.; St. Louis City SC and others are hard at work reimagining a signature marathon. The Greater St. Louis Marathon on April 27 will start and finish outside the new soccer stadium, will route past city parks and cultural sites, and will feature a new expo and National Running Club Championships.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.