Long distance running is not like other sports – no Sunday league football player will get to kick a ball on the same pitch at those at the top of the game. No village green cricketer will get to face a delivery on the same smooth, manicured wicket that their heroes play on. But for those who love to run long distances, their feet cover exactly the same ground as the winners, no matter how far behind they may be.
In the trail running scene this sense of democracy is very much part of the sport. On the trails the very best in the world wait at the finish line to congratulate those coming in hours after them. Race leaders eat in the same restaurants as the other runners, drink in the same bars. The best in the world stand around in groups at the awards ceremony like all the other runners.
And so it was at the UTMB race weekend in Chamonix where Simon and Julie from Like the Wind met up with some of the runners who are redefining what people are capable of doing on the trails, including Lizzy Hawker, Anton Krupicka, Jez Bragg, Sébastien Chaigneau, Joe Grant, Rory Bosio, Mike Foote and Mike Wardian to name just a few.
The remarkable thing is that these people don’t demand – don’t even seem to want – to be screened from the rest of the people doing their sport. They will happily sign t-shirts, pose for photos, chat about how the race went (for you and for them) and share their enthusiasm for the trails. We were delighted to hand over a few copies of the second edition of Like the Wind magazine (and get a photo, of course!)
Long may it continue that runners will be runners and enjoy each others company, no matter where in the pack they finish.