Simple. It’s a word that comes up again and again in conversations between trail runners and is undoubtedly the reason I remain taken with the sport. No other activity is so basic in its practise and yet so rewarding. Just a pair of shoes (or not) and shorts (preferably) and you can be off on any number of adventures. Of course, like with anything, it is possible to make it infinitely complicated: minimalist shoes or extra cushioning, compression gear, a plethora of beeping gadgets. At its essence, however, the activity of running remains unchanged. One foot in front of the other, deep breathes and fluid motion. The culmination of millennia of evolution captured in the art of bipedal travel.
Running, for me, is the ultimate tool for exploration. You can go places you certainly can’t with a bicycle or car. You can travel measurable distances in a single outing. You move at the perfect speed, fast enough but not too fast that you miss all the tiny details along the way. We are blessed in South Africa with a huge diversity of easily accessible wild spaces, most with an established system of trails. How better to get to know these places than on foot? And in today’s hussle-and-bussle world of tight schedules, running allows one to absorb a huge amount in a short period of time.
I have a huge passion for running as a form of exploration. We hear a lot about racing and this aspect of running dominates many people’s focus in the sport. That isn’t a bad thing, but I find it limiting. Such an approach brings with it a degree of rigidity and pressure that I often find detracts from the experience. Running for the sake of being in beautiful places and interacting intimately with the land, that is where the real beauty lies for me. And so I will try, through these posts, to share my passion for free running with you. Through my words and images I hope to stoke the fire already burning in you (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this at all right?).
So for now, I’ll leave you with these words from ultra-legend Scott Jurek and a few snapshots from my wanderings scouting lines for my project…but more on that another time.
“Life is not a race. There is no finish line. We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve that goal is important, but it isn’t what is most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal. What is crucial is the step you’re taking now.”
Get up, lace up and get out there…just because.
Cover Photo – Jacques Marais Media