“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat.
“That was a fun run.”
But what’s the meaning of ‘fun’?
Aside from a cat in a hat, other potentially dubious online references tell us that: “Fun is the enjoyment of pleasure, particularly in leisure activities. Fun is an experience – short-term, often unexpected, informal, not cerebral and generally purposeless. It is an enjoyable distraction, diverting the mind and body from any serious task.”
Where does our trail running fit into that?
Nearly every trail run (but not every one) I do will be punctuated with: “That was awesome fun!”
Yet, usually I’m hurting, tired, sore. Not the kind of things stereotypically associated with fun.
And picking apart the above definition as it may or may not relate to a singletrail junkie, trail running can absolutely be cerebral – in fact trail running’s requirement for heightened cerebral activity (lest you eat dirt), is one of my favourite aspects. Think: about foot placement, strategise about pace, monitor your body’s performance, muse about life, wonder how old that gigantic gum tree is…
Purposeless? That’s a sticky one – some of my best trail runs have had absolutely no purpose. Tick for fun. Not fitness, not PBs, not training, not conditioning…they have been driven purely by the urge to be floating along a sublime piece of singletrack with a smile on my dial. The imagining of that scenario has been the only impetus for me to kit up, head out and fulfill the imagining. Purposeless running rocks my world.
“Diverting the mind and body from any serious task”? Well, trail running can be pretty serious when you’ve been out in the bush for hours, it’s dark, your headlamp is powering down and you’ve run out of water (damn…forgot to think through your run prior to heading out, now my body is suffering). Some trail running – especially adventure runs – can be very serious indeed.
But in that, there can be fun.
Exhibit A: an afternoon atop Mount Buffalo in Victoria, Australia, with some trail buddies. Studying topo maps, we noticed a ‘route only’ trail that according to the topography markings dropped more than one kilometer in less than five kilometres. The Holy Grail (in Australia): the Vertical Kilometre run that most pundits reckon doesn’t exist in this country of hillocks. We were duty bound to run it, despite the fading light.
Drop off the top of the Buffalo escarpment and fast forward three hours. No trail. We’d been belting through thick wilderness, a headlamp had failed, water had run dry and we were still stuck on the side of a mountain getting sucked down dead end valleys. Shit started getting serious. Even so, popping out onto foothill farmland in pitch blackness, four and a half hours and only 10km after dropping off the top, dehydrated, our bodies torn to shreds, we almost skipped down the road waiting for our pick up.
There was not, except for the final paddock dash through a herd of confused cows, really any running involved: it was all scramble, fall and navigate. And a lot of thinking our way out of trouble.
Damn it was a fun run, though.
And therein lies the Big Fun found in running trails: each step can be serious or flippant, with purpose or with abandon, in a race or all alone, in pain or painfree, mindfully or mindlessly (watch the root): trail running can be a bit of everything, a lot of something and sometimes a lot of nothing.
For me, it’s the childhood thing: it just is and I just do it because it feels good (even when it feels bad).
I’m with American poet Robert Frost (who may or may not have been a trail runner): “So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be.”
How about: “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.” – Snoop Dogg.
Ed on da trails,
There have been big changes afoot at Adventure Types, the scruffy but passionate mob behind Trail Run Mag (and our sister publications PaddleMag www.paddlemag.com and Vertical Life www.verticallifemag.com). We’re taking our love of playing in the wild and, from our humble origins as a bunch of free pdf magazines, have caught up with the digital wave to get all app-afied.
It means that while Trail Run Mag may be only two and trot years old, we’re in publishing terms pushing into adolescence, which means we’ll swear a little, be a little mouthy, use Facebook way too much, and generally be all about having some dirty fun.
It also means that you can get the latest edition (#9) of Trail Run Mag on subscription via an App, with content fully-optimised for all reading devices, including tablets and smart phones.
Download the App for free at the App Store or Amazon Kindle Fire Newsstand, and then subscribe to four fabulous issues a year for only $13.95 or buy single issues for $4.49 a pop. This has been a long process for us and we see this as a critical stepping stone in our development as the voice for trail running culture in this part of the world. We have also just launched a brand spanking new website this week, which means that all our unique content will look even better. These are big times for Trail RunMag, and we want to thank all you single track, mad for mountain running junkies for your support.
It is still currently possible to download a free pdf of the new edition from this website – excellent news for those reading the publication on a desktop or laptop computer, but we do recommend the App format for the best user experience.
Moving forward, we’ll publish a preview edition of each magazine, but for the full-on dirt, you’ll have to subscribe.
We’d also like to welcome on board our new editors, Vicki Woolley who will be covering all things singletrack in New Zealand (with our founding NZ editor, Mal Law relaxing up a little to be a Roving Editor); and Rachel Jacqueline joins us as Asia editor, scoring the biggest remit of any in covering the booming trail scene in her patch of the world from a base in Hong Kong.
And what can you expect in the new edition?
Here’s just a snapshot of what lies within: Joining the Miler High Club at Northburn; Kung Fuji Master Grant Guise tackles UTMF; Finding balance in the bush, or how to juggle motherhood, career and a singletrack addiction; The Pearl of the Orient – Hong Kong trails PLUS King of Kong Andre Blumberg; One Step Beyond – The Heaphy Track; Himalayan Hotspot – Nepal’s rising trail stars; PLUS trail guides, gear and meet our new Asia and New Zealand editors.
The first 100 readers to subscribe to Trail Run Mag on iTunes or Amazon will get a short sleeve crewe merino tee valued at AU$99.95 FREE.