I’m often asked by friends and colleagues if I ever get lonely whilst clocking up hundreds of kilometres in preparation for a race. Why not join a team sport, or a more social outlet they often say? Don’t get me wrong, from the outside looking in I can see how running can appear a lonely and unforgiving sport, but the reality of my situation is quite the opposite.
Endurance running has given me more understanding of community and friendship than any other sport I’ve ever embarked upon in my 29 years on this planet. I don’t quite know why, but there’s something fascinating about people that find pleasure in climbing mountains over distances most deem insane or unachievable. I’m not sure how to summarise this type of person, or what characteristics you require to love this crazy thing we call ultra running, but I guess there’s one word that encapsulates each and every runner I’ve ever met on my journey, HAPPY!
“There’s something fascinating about people that find pleasure in climbing mountains”
Each week I meet new and exciting people all chasing the same undeniable feeling of happiness that surges through our veins as we take off down the trail. Maybe it’s the release of endorphins, or the stress relief that comes with running in the fresh morning air, one thing is for sure, I always know I will be met with positivity and happiness when I head down to my local run club or run group.
“Each week I meet new and exciting people all chasing the same undeniable feeling of happiness that surges through our veins as we take off down the trail.”
If you’re new to running and struggle to surpass that 5km mark, or run that kilometre split a little faster, then a run group is what you need. My favourite day of the week is Tuesday night. Why Tuesday night? That’s the night I head down to Manly to run with my friends from the Pace Athletic run club. A group comprised of around of around 50 runners, each with their own story, their own goals and a big smile on their face. It doesn’t matter your ability as a runner, most groups have a mixed variety, from beginner to competitive athletes. Many running stores hold weekly run clubs and prove the best way to meet fellow runners in your community.
The other great bond we runners share stems from the drive to beat a race PB (personal best). In May of 2016 I completed the UTA 50k, one of Australia’s biggest calendar races of the season, if not the biggest. In only my second ultra marathon, I arrived confident and excited, I took off fast, and due to inexperience got caught running the race of a much faster runner, I quickly learnt I was vastly unprepared for what lay ahead, and as a result bonked out rather early in the race. Whilst I absolutely loved the weekend up in the Blue Mountains, and the spectacle that is Ultra Trail, I ran the course in a less than impressive time. With that in mind I look to next year and a burning passion to return to Ultra Trail Australia in 2017 and complete the 50k almost 2 hours quicker, proving to myself I can take on the mountain and achieve my goals.
So how does that tie back to the community of running? It just so happens my Running Coach and good friend Jon Fong of Morph Performance wants to run a similar race time, giving us the perfect opportunity to partner up, train hard, and push each other to success in 2017. This means hundreds of hours training on the trails, and up in the mountains together, sharing that love of running, whilst no doubt meeting many new friends along the way.
So do I feel lonely out in the wilderness? Or climbing hill repeats in the heat of summer? Absolutely not. The Ultra Running community is full of amazing people, many of which I am lucky to call my friend. If you like the sound of this, and would love to meet some new people its pretty simple, go find your running shoes, lace them up and head down to your local shop. Running is a simple and easy sport to pick up, and the rewards are endless.