Editorial: change (and face the strange)

TrailRunMag 20.12.2019

Bowie knew it. I tell it to my daughters all the time: change is the only constant in life. The presence of change never changes. Learn to embrace change or wither. Especially on trails. But more so in life.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes / Turn and face the strange / Ch-ch-changes / Don’t want to be a richer man / Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

As the world turns and burns, the wistful almost pleading tone of Bowie’s voice seems like something I want to take onto the trail with me.

In the first edition of Trail Run Mag (waaaay back in in the winter of 2011, 34 editions ago, when we were a from-the-kitchen-bench, free download magazine), I wrote that I was The Angry Trail Runner. A theatre director in Jenin, Palestine, had been assassinated , shot dead for encouraging the use of art rather than bullets to protest the conflict raging around him. It stuck enough in the craw of my throat that I weaved it into a trail running editorial. In a way, ironically, nothing’s changed there – I’m still squeezing oblique references into my editorials. Like Bowie.

I watch the ripples change their size / But never leave the stream / Of warm impermanence / And so the days float through my eyes / But still the days seem the same / And these children that you spit on / As they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through

Back then I wrote that I was angry for even turning on the damn TV to see the news piece covering the bloodshed. I was angry about dead fish in a polluted river near me, I was angry that a dear friend had been taken by cancer, that I couldn’t pay my electricity bill. I was angry about small things, big things, things that didn’t matter and things that did. Nearly nine years later, nothing and everything has changed. The world’s on fire, we’re ruled by imbeciles, changemakers are cast as troublemakers, just as they were back in 2011. Or in 1911. Or 1411. The change is in the intensity. The fires are hotter, the rulers are stupider, and the hate is ridiculously ratcheted. I’m still angry about it all. I mean what kind of world castigates a 16 year old (Greta Thunberg) for speaking up about the mess our planet is in?

Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it / Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes / Turn and face the strange / Ch-ch-changes / Where’s your shame? / You’ve left us up to our necks in it  / Time may change me  / But you can’t trace time

That night I wrote Trail Run Mag’s first editorial, I went for a run. It solved nothing. In many ways, nothing changed in that hour. Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Israeli Jewish/Palestinian Arab theatre directorwas still dead when I got home. So, too, was a dear friend. My bills remained unpaid. And something did change. I changed. There was still no milk in my fridge, but my mindset had flipped. I flicked the tap on and appreciated that I had running water. Many – including in Palestine – didn’t. It happens every time I go for a run. I change. And in both the tiniest of increments and largest of seismic shifts, so too does the world – sometimes you notice, sometimes you don’t.

In my 34 editorials, I’ve written of fear and failure, children and hope, of being a loser and being stupid, of being a hero and of having fun, of tough love, of art, of understanding – and many more things not about trail running at all but also all about trail running. Because trail running mirrors life. Good times, bad times, boring times, exciting times, flat patches, high patches, confusing patches, downright painful patches. In the long run everything keeps changing. Your mind, your body, your feeling, your hunger, your pain threshold, your motivation, your ability to keep going, your ability to defy everything. You change, with every step. And so here I write of change because perhaps one of the best tools for coping with change – at least for us – is out there, on the trail. But remember it’s also within each of us. The mechanism to work with change rests in our decision to greet it, welcome it, embrace it, and even chase it. Importantly, it rests in our ability to accept it. Run with it. And so as the world changes – for better or worse – change with it. Every. Time. You. Run.

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older / Time may change me / But I can’t trace time / Ch-ch-changes

Go on…Turn and face the strange

– Chris Ord, AU

 **This editorial featured in Edition #34 of Trail Run Mag, available via subscription HERE or single edition sale (print or PDF) download) via our shop. Trail Run Mag can only exist with the goodwill and subscription commitment of the trail running community – so we thank you for your ongoing support!** 



This is my last editorial and edition for Trail Run Mag, a publication I founded and self-published nine years and 34 editions ago.

I was unemployed back in the beginning, having been retrenched from the editorship of another adventure magazine, just as my second daughter was born. I was at a loss. I started digging holes (literally – on a soccer pitch) to get by in between the odd assignment for what was then Australian Geographic Outdoor magazine and a few other publications willing to have me pen a tale or shoot a story in the great outdoors.

At the time of being booted, I’d pegged that trail running, then fledgling in AU and which we had been covering in smatterings, was a growing thing. I’d conceived the idea that, as a pursuit, it was going to be big enough, and develop its own culture enough, to deserve its own magazine – something that would represent the heart and soul of the community. I was going to pitch the idea to the publisher to add to his stable, but once shown the door, and with time on my hands, figured I’d give it a crack myself – I could design something up (very basically), and blogs allowed me to set up my own channel.

[*Credit: I wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a trail running magazine for Australia – a graphic designer out of Queensland (name escapes me) published I think two e-editions, before the workload and anchoring life responsibilities curtailed his ambitions. I think I lacked that notion of adhering to life’s responsibility…so I picked up the chalice and loved every sweaty, bleeding, self-doubting minute…] 

A coffee and a chat with the likes of Stu Gibson (a legendary trail runner and one of the best Australia has seen), and Mal Law (legendary for mountainous feats in New Zealand and raising bucketloads of money for mental health awareness), along with a few designers I knew – Pete and Heidi Hibberd (nee Green) – and the first edition came to being, along with a print ‘collectors edition’.

The magazine had no budget to speak of, and was financed by dreams, time, pig-headedness, more dreams, lots of wee-hour working, and a fire in the belly that we all had for trail running – yes even the designers ran trails.


The cover line-up Eds#1-34

A few ‘Foundation Partners’ jumped on board, and thanks is due to The North Face, Salomon, Brooks, La Sportiva, Patagonia, Osprey, and Rapid Ascent – the brands that were there from the beginning and rem ain on board today, Without them, Trail Run Mag would not have survived (something’s gotta pay for the print and post and wee hour beers). It’s all too easy these days for brands to not give a damn about a magazine – and all to easy to yap on about digital. I’m a firm believer that TRM, as a print product, delivers cut through and attention, whereas digital just gives quick click through and short attention spans. So thank you to those companies who believed and continue to do so.

Thanks again to the original crew – Stu Gibson (founder), Mal Law (founder and NZ Editor), Heidi Green and Pete Hibberd (designers) for your instant on-boarding.

Of course there’s been more than 100-116 pages to fill each edition – and so a huge debt of gratitude goes out to all those hundreds of contributors who have written, drawn or shot imagery for Trail Run Mag, too many to list of course. But a special thanks to Associate Editor, Tegyn Angel, for his belief and insightful musings, to Celeste Botton, who flew over from Canada on a whim to be an intern and became Assistant Editor and a mainstay on the Australian trail scene; to Beau Miles, some of the best trail musing I’ve ever had the honour of publishing; to Garry Dagg, our ‘minimalist’ man; to Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger from Squadrun for their support and knowledgable articles; to Libby Nuttall (double L) for her recent contributions; and of course to Vicki Woolley and Vera Alves (NZ Editors). Of course there has been a bunch of others who have written and supported – thank to all for your support.

Thanks the mainstay photographers who captured the spirit of trail running with such amazing perspectives: Lyndon Marceau, Kurt Matthews, Mark Watson, Sean Beale, Kamil Sustiak and Sam Costin. All legends who donated much of their time, work and talent to make TRM look so damn good.

Huge thanks to our second designer, who took TRM to another level again, Jordan Cole – who was as passionate about the pages as anyone and shared my wee-hour madness in getting TRM to print over many years.

SamuelCostin_NewCaledonia_0082Thanks to the retailers who supported us by stocking when we went print at Edition 22 and still do: Bogong Equipment, The Running Company Adelaide, Find Your Feet (special thanks to Graham and Hanny for their enduring support), The Blue Mountains Running Co., The Trail Co, The Happy Runner, Footpro and Mont Equipment.

Thanks to my brothers at Adventure Types – our production company that originally published Trail Run Mag and its sister publication, Vertical Life Mag (climbing): Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Pat Kinsella. Brothers in adventure arms indeed and believers in all that is good and dirty in our trail world.

And thanks to my family for putting up with all those endless hours at the desk out in the back garden shed (literally). Hopefully, at least for my two daughters, the sheer number of mentions of you immortalised in print will make up for at least a sliver of the time dad was glued to a screen (while railing at them that they should never be tied to a screen: GET OUTSIDE!).

Stepping down from the editorship of Trail Run Mag has been a difficult decision, however after nine years and plenty of candle burn, it’s time to get some fresh eyes and energy across Trail Run Mag‘s pages. With the change of the title’s owners to Adventure Entertainment (AE), I figured it a ripe time to give the magazine wings as it enters its teenage life… AE is the curator of a bunch of adventure and running film festivals and unlike me, does not operate out of a garden shed or kitchen table – and thus it will have the capacity to realise what we all know is TRM’s true potential for growing and flourishing, backed by the resources of a larger company. I’m sure it will realise that potential – and whomever jumps into the editor’s chair is up for a fun time, leading Australia and New Zealand’s only trail running magazine into an exciting future.

For me – I’ll stay on trail forever, and in the near future have some trail expeditions planned, a re-focus on family life as my daughters grow up (rather too quickly), and hopefully I’ll still be allowed to grace the pages of the magazine here and there to recount a few adventures in the wild.

Follow along (if you want) on Instagram at: @one_life_wild.

or come and hang out at one of my trail running events or tours, via @Tourdetrails / www.tourdetrails.com 

Until we cross single track again…remember…

One life. Many trails.

Thanks for your support.


Chris Ord


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