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HEART OF A HERO
(slightly changed compared to in zine, with respects to the tragedy that has befallen Kilian Jornet’s mission).
Kilian. Jurek. Roes. Jones. Bragg. They’re all good. Great, even. And inspirations to many.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate their talent. These guys – the cream of world competitive ultra trail are machines.
But they’re not my trail heroes.
Mine is a trail runner by the name of Scott Knabel. Never heard of him?
True, he wasn’t mixing it with the lead pack at The North Face 100. And no, he’s never gone toe-to-toe with The Spaniard, or Sandes, let alone with any of the local grade legends like Donges, Davies, Coops, Tuckey, Guise, or Armstrong.
But if there’s one man I’ve met who truly inspires me even more than that lot, it’s Scott.
135kg Scott. His mates and family know him as the Big Fella. The one that has battled gambling, binge drinking, depression and, on a longer term basis, obesity.
I’ve only just met Scott. So to me he’s not the Big Fella, he’s just another friendly trail runner. But one that strikes a cutting figure along the singletrack, not for his speed, or dare I say grace, but for his heart which I reckon is bigger than his girth will ever be.
While the world’s best are starting to garner the attention of film makers and magazines with wins and rivalries and latest mega-missions, Scott’s writing me emails, “because you’re the only runner I know”, telling how his step-up achievement recently was his first ever run where he actually ran every step: “No more running/walking as in the past!” he writes.
In my estimation, and I know in Scott’s world, that’s a bigger achievement than any global trail extravaganza, even if his is the conquering of only 3km compared to the elites’ hundreds. Pain and barrier bashing is very much relative to one’s inner life.
Scott has latched on to the upcoming Salomon Trail Run Series as a way to get his bum off the couch and onto the trail where he hopes to rid himself of years of depression, anxiety, self doubt, and even self-hatred.
“Why not, nothing to lose except the result of 43 years of poor lifestyle choices, about 40kg in body fat, along with an unhealthy dose of a lack of self respect and belief.
“That and a bit of high blood pressure, an overdose of slothfulness and the old woulda, coulda, shoulda but was too fat and lazy to do it-itis. Not much to loose (yeah right) but plenty to gain. Lets do it!” he writes to me after I ask if he’d be willing for me to film his journey.
So while the likes of Jornet and Ryan Sandes are to be admired for their pure grace and physical aptitude for trail running through wild environments at phenomenal speeds, it’s to be remembered that they are, at least in part, assisted by gifts of genes, environment, upbringing, luck. All have played a part in the most heralded trail athletes’ lives and successes. Hard work, too, of course and I take nothing away from that. But people like Scott, I believe, face much bigger walls than just the one found at 32km.
I’m just saying that if Scott takes on the North Face 100 – as is one of his aims in the next 12 months – it’d be like Ryan Sandes (circa 65kg) cloning and piggy backing himself around the course. Sub-ten hours goneski. In fact, I’d peg Scott to win that little duel.
Beyond the Salomon Trail Run Series, Scott has aims much grander than his belt-size: Two Bays, the Surf Coast 100…just the gumption to aim that high and far deserves respect, as does Scott’s sign off on his last email:
“Changing my life, changing the world, one step at a time, moving forward, never looking back.”
Now that’s a bloody trail running hero.
Chris Ord, The Inspired Trail Runner