Illustrator Spotlight: Craig McIntosh

Issue 13 is on the way. Here is a special insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes in order to create the unique running magazine that is Like The Wind.

There are two key elements on each page of Like The Wind; both words and images are equally as important to us  – firstly, the contributors who run all the miles and write up their experiences. In addition, we find the best illustrators and photographers around to perfect the presentation of each story. Images and words in perfect harmony to tell the perfect running story. The contributor and illustrator may not know each other; however, their creativities work hand in hand so that each story becomes a unique collaboration – each artist bringing their own input to the table.

We spoke to a few of the contributors and illustrators for Issue 13 to learn more about their personality, inspiration, and ambition.

 

 

Illustrator Spotlight: Craig McIntosh

  1. From where did your love of illustration stem?

It was probably a mix of three things; comic books like 2001AD, different Wargames witch I used to geek out on as a kid and the high-profile artists like John Byrne, Alistair Grey and Peter Howson whose work was predominate in Glasgow when I was growing up. These guys with a strong illustrative style would be showing at the various galleries round the city, along with having their work featured in magazines and other publications and its just stunning. With this cocktail of visual imagery I was hooked.

  1. You share a well-known Glaswegian surname, particularly in the artistic sphere. What’s your favourite thing about the art scene in Glasgow?

Probably its diversity, there is a huge amount of contemporary and traditional artists as well as a great design community. For a small city, there is a lot going on, print design is something you can see all over the place!

  1. What / who are your main influences when it comes to designing a piece?

I take a lot of influences from print, especially poster and graphic novels. But it really depends on what the brief is. As an illustrator you have do be diverse as clients and outputs can be wildly different. Depending on what the piece is for can change where you are coming from.

  1. If you aren’t drawing, what else do you like to spend time doing?

I train in Muay Thai, which is Thai Kickboxing, its something that I started after I left Art School. I love the fitness and sparing, especially with the fighters in the gym. It’s a beautifully brutal sport that has lots of tactical elements. It’s a bit different for an Artist. The look on someone’s face when you’re at an exhibition opening and you mention why you have a limp and a black eye is interesting. I find it balances out the long time that I spend drawing and in front of a computer.

  1. What is your favourite thing to draw? What are you most inspired by?

To draw, probably people, there is something fascinating about interesting characters that I love to try and capture the more quirky and different the personality the better. I’m inspired by all sorts of things. A lot of poster and print work but anything can set off and idea. I do spend a lot of time looking for interesting photographs.

  1. What do you hope to achieve with your art? 

I think what most artist want, to be able to make a living while producing what you love.

  1. How would you describe your aesthetic?

A mix of detailed drawing and line work with textural backgrounds.

  1. Favourite book / music / film

Book: The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss, geeking out here completely but it’s a stunningly written book.

Music: John Lee Hooker – Pretty much anything by this legend of the blues.

Film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – From design to acting this is a superb film, which means different thing to me depending on how I’m feeling.

 

Craig McIntosh is a Glaswegian illustrator, featuring in Like The Wind Issue #13 to accompany Emily Coltman’s story, View From The Middle where she has revelled in both participating and supporting running events across the country from park runs to marathons. Check out Craig’s other artwork on his website and follow his twitter for updates!

 

Illustrator Spotlight: Ellis Van Der Does

Issue 13 is on the way. Here is a special insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes in order to create the unique running magazine that is Like The Wind.

There are two key elements on each page of Like The Wind; both words and images are equally as important to us  – firstly, the contributors who run all the miles and write up their experiences. In addition, we find the best illustrators and photographers around to perfect the presentation of each story. Images and words in perfect harmony to tell the perfect running story. The contributor and illustrator may not know each other; however, their creativities work hand in hand so that each story becomes a unique collaboration – each artist bringing their own input to the table.

We spoke to a few of the contributors and illustrators for Issue 13 to learn more about their personality, inspiration, and ambition.

 

Illustrator Spotlight: Ellis Van Der Does

  1. What’s your story? Where are you from and how did you find your love for illustrating?

I grew up in the Netherlands in a small town called Soest and moved to Utrecht when I was 19 to study illustration. In September 2014, I moved to London to study for an MA in Graphic Design Communication and stayed after graduation.

From a young age, I’ve always loved making things but when I was 16 I attended an arts foundation course and I knew I wanted to do illustration. The Illustration professor really made me enthusiastic to follow this path, because he showed me the broad range of illustration styles and ways of storytelling that are out there.

  1. Talk us through your artistic process.

Whenever I work on a commissioned or self-initiated project I first start researching the topic and look for interesting angles. Often, I write down words or phrases that I associate with the theme. Then I start making sketches and try out different ideas. As soon as I’m enthusiastic about a certain idea I’ll make the actual drawing with fine liner and scan it. Once I have the digital copy of the drawing I’ll finish it off digitally, adding textures and colours.

  1. Who or what inspires your work and why?

What: wordplay, animals, (popping) colour combinations I see around me, Japanese culture, and watching people.

Who: David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Martin Parr among many others.

  1. What are your goals within your artistic career?

After graduating I have been focussing on freelance illustrating, I really enjoy making editorial illustrations and would love to work with newspapers. However, I really enjoy doing different jobs for various types of clients.  So hopefully I can take on projects ranging from editorial to textile design and keep on making time for self-initiated projects.

  1. What else do you spend time doing? Hobbies?

Recently I brought a point-and-shoot analogue camera and I have been enjoying capturing my spring / summer with it.

  1. Do you have a piece of artwork that you are most proud of?

Hmm… hard to say! Often, I’m quite happy with a piece of work when I hand it in, but change my mind over time and would like to make a few adjustments.

  1. What is your favourite: book, band, film

Book: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Music: currently I’m listening to Right by David Bowie

Film: hard to pick a favourite, but last year I really enjoyed Toni Erdmann directed by Maren Ade

  1. What do you aim to achieve with your illustrations?

I hope to tell a story, make people think and whenever appropriate bring a smile onto someone’s face.

  1. What makes your illustrations unique? What defines your aesthetic?

Popping colours, textures and hopefully the idea behind the work.

Ellis Van Der Does illustrated the piece Great Expectations written by ultra-runner Becky Walters for Like The Wind Issue #13.

Check her out on twitter @ellis__d and her website showcases her other artwork.

Contributor Spotlight | Alexis Berg

We are hugely grateful to the contributors that help us make each edition of the magazine. Without their imagination and generosity LtW wouldn’t exist. Our thanks go out to the writers, but also to the illustrators who create the beautiful images that accompany our stories.

Alexis Berg and his Grand Trail project was featured in issue #12 of Like the Wind. We were lucky enough to catch Alexis between his hectic travel schedule to find out more about his project.

LTW: Tell us a little about yourself, and what led you to begin the Grand Trail project.
AB: I am a photographer, and the photos in the Grand Trail project were taken on my round-the-world trip as a photographer for the Ultra-Trail World Tour. I tend to travel a lot – in the past few weeks I’ve shot races on 3 continents: in Madeira, Marathon des Sables and Barkley Marathon!

LTW: You co-created the project with your brother, tell us about that.
AB: The feature in Like the Wind is actually an excerpt from a book that I worked on with my brother, Frédéric. He runs, I watch. He writes, I take photographs.

LTW: What is the book about?
AB: Grand Trail is a photo-book about trail running, featuring 13 stories (one of which is featured in LtW #12), portraits of 16 of the sport’s greatest champions and profiles of 13 of the most iconic ultra-races. There’s also Grand Trail Extra, which is 120pp of photos (including guest photos by various trail photographers) and texts, including two fiction running stories.

 

Contributor Spotlight | Dan Walters

We are hugely grateful to the contributors that help us make each edition of the magazine. Without their imagination and generosity LtW wouldn’t exist. Our thanks go out to the writers, but also to the illustrators who create the beautiful images that accompany our stories.

We spoke to Dan Walters, Like the Wind #12’s incredible cover artist, who told us about his work and gave us an insight into what fuels him to run.

LTW: Tell us a little about yourself, and what See Creatures is.
DW: My name is Dan Walter and I am an artist/illustrator/surface pattern designer living in Brighton. I have worked both locally and for international clients such as the North Face, Nike, GAP and Patagonia. I am really influenced by the outdoors. I draw a lot of nature inspired elements and use the travel I get to do with work to explore some amazing places and get inspired for the next design. I set up See Creatures Studio in 2014 and I have got to do some fantastic projects, most recently a mural on new craft beer pub, The Pond, in the Brighton Lanes.

LTW: What is your favourite running memory?
DW: I run mostly with my 8yr old Great Dane, Loki. When we first moved to Brighton we were exploring the South Downs and new places to go. While the early days of setting up the business were pretty hectic, I really remember getting up to Ditchling Beacon after a day in the studio, and both of us just running across the downs blown away by wind and the views. She is a great running partner.

LTW: What is your favourite thing about running?
DW: It’s about the views for me. Work takes me to some cool places, I love an early run on the first morning when I can’t sleep to explore the surroundings. Running around with the kids is pretty awesome too!

LTW: What inspired you to choose that text to illustrate?
DW: I recently went on holiday to Scotland with my family. We had an unexpected 12hr drive to the highlands as our flight was cancelled. Seeing stags standing on hills at 4am and the mountains appearing from the darkness really stuck with me so I felt I already had a vision for this piece when I read it.

www.see-creatures.com
instagram.com/seecreaturesdesign
twitter.com/seecreaturesuk

Ink That Runs

The smell of nervous sweat on skin, a dull throb during a two-hour session, low sugar levels, that weird feeling of euphoria when it’s over and the subsequent kick of adrenalin that can often become addictive.

The physiological effects of getting a tattoo and going for a run are seemingly similar. One can also draw parallels between the outcomes: once a marathoner, always a marathoner – in the same way, a tattoo will last a lifetime. With both comes a significant commitment. So we ask why? Is there a reason why people give up their hours to run? Is there a reason why some choose to be indelibly marked? And is there a commonality between tattoos and running beyond the physical?

For some, there is a misconception that tattoos are aesthetic, to be observed, a trend, for fashion, a flight of fancy. For others, for our runners, they are symbols, icons, landmarks and reminders of why they run and who they are.

Behind each of our runners’ tattoos, there is a story – as there is a story behind their running. They are identifiers and help shape them as a person. Body art proudly on display alongside the post- race medal. Mementos, memories and moments collected.

Here are a few of those we featured in Issue #10 :
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-15-24-51Not all of my tattoos have a meaning. Some of them are for fun, because of my passion for tattoo art. But some of them are significant to me. I never thought I would tattoo my legs, because I didn’t like them. I always used to cover them with long dresses, leggings, jeans, everything in L or XXL. But since running, I slowly regained confidence in my body. The word “PRESENT” was my first real running tattoo. I now like my legs, no body shaming anymore. I got faster, distances got longer. A kind of meditation, because running is so much a mental thing and it is so important to stay in the here and now. Running has made me stronger in so many ways, how I interact with people, remember to focus on the self and be “present”.
Anna @annerjaeger

 

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-16-18-08I got my first ever tattoo one year after founding “Run Pack” with friends Kathi and Flo. We all decided to get our logo – a “bear-dog” designed by a friend, Björn. For us it was a statement of how important our running family had become. I got the RUN! tattoos [see above] on my legs after completing my first marathon in Berlin. I wanted something that reminded me of that marathon achievement. That constantly pushes me when I look down. I designed them to be upside down so I can always read them while running; when having a tough time at 37km, or even while being lazy on the couch! They turned out to be a pretty bold statement.
For bold adventures.
Kai Heuser @heuserkampf

 

 

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-12-12-25screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-12-12-50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am from Paris and live in London. My first tattoo is the logo for my crew in London – Run Dem Crew’s running man – holding an upside down Eiffel Tower – the logo of my other crew, Paris Run Club – as an Olympic flame. They are the reason I took up running and they changed my life for the better. “You don’t win silver, you lose gold” are words used by a mentor, Charlie, in one of his songs and they describe my race day motto perfectly. Trying isn’t enough; being the best you can be is the only possible result. The “+” and “-” on my legs are my way of keeping strong, they hold my power. The IronMan logo in the colours of the French flag I had done after my first IronMan in my home country – it had to be engraved on my body!
Hugo @bonjourhugo_

 

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-15-50

As a mom of five, finding time to train is a challenge. At 48, I have a degenerated disc and bone spurs… those things combined, along with my scoliosis, created intense sporadic nerve pains. But I trained for my first marathon with the support of my husband Steve, who put his own running aside for me. I didn’t know my five kids were there at the finish. The race was in Michigan, several hours from home, so I was absolutely shocked and in tears when I saw my kids – best surprise ever. When I got a loose toenail out of my shoe, my son’s friend’s eyes almost popped out of his head! He said: “My mom does not do anything like this at all.” That simple comment meant a lot to me.
I think runners get why.
Alice @alicestjames

 

We were touched by the meaning that running brought to the lives of our contributors. Some of their stories were funny, some were sad. Some up-lifting. All enlightening.

Every tattoo and story we featured in Issue #10 showed purpose; a reminder of life and why we are here. They demonstrate that runners quite literally wear their hearts on their sleeves (and shorts, and shoes, and everywhere else). Living, breathing examples of #WhyWeRun.

Thank you to all who offered their stories. You are all totally rad.

A Line in the Sand

Marathon des Sables water - Like the Wind magazine

‘Midday on day three and things aren’t going well. I’ve spent more than two hours trudging through an undulating dune that doesn’t remove one’s breath in awe, but because of the absence of any moving air whatsoever. I think this might be heatstroke.’

Words and photography by James Carnegie.

I remember being six years old and my dad explaining to us how our white Ford Escort estate came to be covered in strange red droplets one spring morning. It was Saharan sand, blown thousands of kilometres north until it reached our tiny island of Jersey.

Nearly 30 years later, I stand amid a sea of burnt red dunes, 3km into day one of the 29th Marathon des Sables with more than 248km still to run. I feel complete. This is where I am meant to be, stood baking in the Moroccan sun, loaded with 10kg of food, kit and water to see me through the next six days of this peculiar desert adventure.

While visions of running free across dried lake beds and ascending precarious jebels dominate the marketing material that continues to entice more than 400 Brits each year to take part in this behemoth of an event, I was determined to discover (and document) the romance, reality and guts spilt out over the desert floor for a week every year. As a photographer, this presented me with two immediate problems: how much camera gear could I justifiably run with and what would withstand the rigours of such demanding conditions?

Marathon des Sables helicopter - Like the Wind magazine

For most competitors, countless evenings are lost (much to their partners’ disgust) scouring the web for the lightest, cheapest and smallest equipment. For what is essentially a running race, you’d be amazed at what it turns out you need to keep one foot in front of the other over 160 miles. Gaiters, venom-pumps, signalling mirrors… it piles up.

My 10kg pack made me 3kg heavier at the start line than one ought to be if one has any intention of successfully running the entire event (or as much as can be run). But I wasn’t just here to post a fast time or secure a top 200 place: I wanted the full experience. I wanted to convey to people back home why so many of us are drawn to running and suffering through remote, extreme environments. Why do we pay – in the case of the MDS an extraordinary amount – for the privilege of not washing for a week, eating dehydrated chicken tikka from a cut-up water bottle each night and sleeping eight abreast, lined up on a dusty rug like frazzled peperamis (an invaluable 126-calorie snack, by the way) beneath an open-sided berber tent?

Marathon des Sables Camp Fire - Like the Wind magazine

I’m a sucker for the romance of travel and exotic locations and am inflicted with the hereditary curse of always wanting to be somewhere else, soon – a curse fuelled in part by a boyhood spent reading Tintin and my grandfather’s collection of dusty National Geographics. It seemed natural to pair this with the fairly recent discovery of my ability to run along trails for long periods of time – not particularly quickly, mind, but loving the discovery and freedom it offered (even when running through Surrey countryside). In training for various races I’ve found myself indescribably lost, jogging through villages time seems to have forgotten (complete with farming communities who legitimately wear red trousers with wellies and drive packs of dogs around in 4x4s) armed solely with a water bottle, a bag of nuts and a debit card. There’s a real romance to running: crossing county borders at sunrise, searching for overgrown walking trail signs and finding refreshment from brooks and motorway services – when three-lane highways unexpectedly appear from behind a hedgerow. It’s another side to the energy gel-sucking, split-timing, minimal-drop obsession that grips so many people in their hunt for PBs and medals. While I admire those able to dedicate themselves to such a pursuit, it’s not for me.

Marathon des Sables haze - Like the Wind magazine

Midday on day three and things aren’t going well. I’ve spent more than two hours trudging through an undulating dune that doesn’t remove one’s breath in awe, but because of the absence of any moving air whatsoever. I think this might be heatstroke. I know I’ve drunk enough (although if a checkpoint doesn’t appear within the next 20 minutes I and a lot of other people are in trouble), I’ve taken my quota of salt tablets and I’ve got the legs to do this. Why, then, am I starting to feel dizzy? My head is busy throwing up all manner of bizarre images and thoughts, my speech is slurring and morale among my tent-mates is at an all-time low.

A clearer-thinking individual would prescribe retreating to a shady patch, pouring water over your head and easing up on the pace. This strategy (which I adopted soon after the following checkpoint) is how I learned to cope with heat that often reached the 40s or even low 50s.

The local children who occasionally gather under trees, dressed in dark jeans and jackets lend further weight to our incongruous intrusion into their environment – an environment that, as more than 100 runners (and one unfortunate soul airlifted to hospital in Casablanca) will discover when forced to drop out, is not to be taken lightly.

Marathon des Sables start-line - Like the Wind magazine

6:30am, and another queue develops in the centre of the bivouac circle – this time for the first of today’s water rations. Queues and waiting, one soon begins to realise, form the basis of the French race organisers’ raison d’etre. While we British are renowned for our ability to join or form a queue at any given opportunity, the MDS uses queues as a tool for ensuring order at water/ration/kit-check/doctor points, forming a captive audience before each morning’s start and preventing the sort of mad rush ordinarily found in Italian stations.

Once water has been secured it is sparingly divided between the stove for breakfast, bottles for running and washing. However, the latter somehow never seems to happen. Shorts and shirt have by now developed the kind of crusty salt marks that one normally expects to see on excessively sweaty marathon runners. Mirrors (fortunately) are in short supply; who really wants to see themselves anyway, surrounded by a thousand other weathered, dishevelled companions?

Over the course of the MDS’s six days, numerous checkpoints, dried lake beds and oueds, I begin to appreciate that our bodies are remarkable vehicles for attempting endurance challenges while our minds the often less than reliable drivers. One will purely offer up signals of impending cessation, but the other has a more cunning ability to pose questions, such as “Did you really train enough for this?”, “Can you actually see yourself completing five more days?” and “Really – shouldn’t we just stop?”

Marathon des Sables crew - Like the Wind magazine

By the 81km stage I had learned to hoist a defiant finger at the desert, race organisers and whatever they chose to put in front of us. A 10km trudge through undulating peaks and troughs of soft sand followed by an hour-long climb up a 200ft jebel? Bring it on. You may reduce me to a crawl, trekking poles (invaluable) clawing at loose earth with feet barely lifting off the ground, but you can’t stop me. Not now.

The MDS offers the opportunity to retreat to a place where the ordinary clutter of life has no place or meaning. The MDS will strip you back to your bare bones, reminding you what you’re truly capable of: running where you can, walking the rest, you will spend days with your thoughts. Make no mistake, this is not a pleasurable experience, but the mind soon forgets the pain and pus that exudes from throbbing feet, replacing it with a rose-tinted version of an extraordinary week you once spent in the company of eight other stinking, farting runners.

Marathon des Sables resting - Like the Wind magazine

In a way, the MDS embodies all that running often is: a painful, often laborious and repetitive experience, unconducive to long-lasting health with arguably more favourable alternatives available. The MDS and running both reveal things to us and about us in ways other events and forms of exercise cannot. Was it worth the years of worry, financial and personal strain – not to mention risk to health? I’m both too close to the experience and too stubborn to answer that properly. Will I forget the experience of waking before sunrise with the breeze on my face, the vastness of the desert opening up before my feet as I scaled another mountainous dune, or the overwhelming wave of emotion that brought me to tears as I crossed the finish line? I sincerely hope not. I’m not a better runner, I’m not a faster runner and I wouldn’t say I’m a more accomplished runner than most. But through running this event I’ve discovered, felt and lived through more than any other sport ever offered me and because of that I’ll keep going, one foot after another.

Where next? It doesn’t really matter – it’s all new territory awaiting my discovery.

Marathon des Sables dunes

 

James Carnegie is a Jersey boy on a mission to perfect the art of trail running and photography. So far, it is proving expensive.

www.jamescarnegie.co.uk
@jamescarnegie


This story originally appeared in Issue #2 of Like the Wind magazine. The magazine is still in print (be quick only a few copies are left!) and available from the Like the Wind Shop.

LtW_Products_Issue2

Contributor Spotlight – Peter N. Jones

We are hugely grateful to the contributors that help us make each edition of the magazine. Without their imagination and generosity LtW wouldn’t exist. Our thanks go out to the writers, but also to the illustrators who create the beautiful images that accompany our stories.

We spoke to Peter N. Jones, a MUT (mountain-ultra-trail) runner living in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, whose work was featured in issue #4 of the magazine. He told us the story behind his piece and gave us an insight into what fuels him to run.

LTW: Why do you run?
PNJ: To get outside, explore, and calm my mind.

LTW: What’s special about your work?
PNJ: My work stems from a combination of academic and journalistic writing, giving a quality of intimate portrayals coupled with clear facts and deep backgrounds.

LTW: Tell us about your work that we published in Like the Wind.
PNJ: It was a story on the Sand Creek Massacre and the annual healing run that the Native people hold to celebrate their ancestors.

LTW: What would your ultimate adventure be?
PNJ: Anything involving mountains in foreign countries.

rockymountainraider.blogspot.co.uk
twitter.com/RockyMntRaiderX
instagram.com/rockymntraider

Illustration by Fergus McHugh

Contributor Spotlight – Elizabeth Kellerer

We are hugely grateful to the contributors that help us make each edition of the magazine. Without their imagination and generosity LtW wouldn’t exist. Our thanks go out to the writers, but also to the illustrators who create the beautiful images that accompany our stories.

We recently spoke to Elizabeth Kellerer, a photographer, runner and mountain lover, whose work was featured in issue #3 of the magazine. She told us the story behind her piece and gave us an insight into what fuels her to run.

LTW: Why do you run?
EK: The question is: Why not?

LTW: What’s special about your work?
EK: I always tried to find a way to combine my two biggest passions, running (or sports in general) and photography. It’s not always easy, but with my #fromwherelizkeruns series and my Instagram account I found a way to live both passions at the same time.

LTW: Tell us about your work that we published in Like the Wind.
EK: I started my #fromwherelizkeruns project a few years ago with a single picture of my running shoes and some spring flowers. I didn’t plan to do a project, it more or less just happened. I wanted to capture the places where my runs lead me to but taking selfies on the run is not that easy (unless you want to carry a tripod), so I ended up photographing my running shoes. Every picture tells its own story, you won’t find the exact picture twice even though some locations are the same and through the pictures you can see the seasons change and feel what it’s like to be running no matter the weather.

LTW: What is your favourite running moment (either yours or historical)?
EK: Oh, that’s a tough question… I have so many great running moments everyday. It could be a run in the morning sun, lacing my shoes for a run in fresh deep snow, feeling badass when running in a thunderstorm, a short trail to the top of a mountain, a free downhill… the list goes on.

LTW: Do you have a favourite running quote?
EK: Not directly running related, but I remember these words whenever a training session gets really hard: “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.” (Hunter S. Thompson)

lizke.de
instagram.com/lizkefotografie
facebook.com/LizKeFotografie

Contributor Spotlight – Matt Fowler

We are hugely grateful to the contributors that help us make each edition of the magazine. Without their imagination and generosity LtW wouldn’t exist. Our thanks go out to the writers, but also to the illustrators who create the beautiful images that accompany our stories.

We recently spoke to Matt Fowler, photographer and marathoner, whose work was featured in issue #5 of the magazine. He told us the story behind his piece and gave us an insight into what fuels him to run.

LTW: Why do you run?
MF: So I can eat all the cheesecake.

LTW: Tell us about your work that we published in Like the Wind.
MF: ‘It couldn’t last’, from issue #5, was a personal account of my first sub-20 minute parkrun.

LTW: What would your ultimate adventure be?
MF: My ultimate adventure would be to run Japan from North to South.

LTW: Do you have a favourite running quote?
MF: “Whenever I see someone running faster than me, I assume they aren’t going as far.”

mattphoto.co.uk
twitter.com/thebaldrunner
instagram.com/mattfowlerphoto

Bring me Joy

I didn’t start out as a parkrunner. In fact, I didn’t even think of myself as a runner until my mid-twenties. I am now 55.

Words by Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Photograph by Paul Duke.

I was fortunate to grow up in South Africa, where sport is almost as important as an education – some might say more important. Circumstances meant that my path into adulthood was driven by teachers and coaches as I boarded at school from the age of five. Playing sport was a daily ritual and I definitely preferred sport to being in the classroom or doing homework. I tried out for every team and discipline going; at one point I was a gymnast. I represented my house and eventually my school on the athletics track, in cross-country, in the swimming pool and at some point I represented my province (Western Transvaal) in the duathlon – I was so proud of that tracksuit. I played cricket until I was 15 and captained the second XV rugby team at the end of my schooldays. During this time, though, I never considered myself particularly good at any sport.

While at university in Durban, a friend of the family asked if I would run with them while they made their first attempt at the Comrades Marathon, the gruelling 90km race between two cities in Natal. I agreed to help out without giving it a second thought. I didn’t do any training and was ill-prepared on the day – so much for the ignorance of youth.

On that day, I ran 70 of the 90km in a pair of broken tennis shoes.

It wasn’t until several years later that I “discovered” running for the first time. Working at one of South Africa’s finest financial institutions and privileged to have all its facilities at my disposal, I decided to go jogging at lunchtime. It didn’t take long before I noticed a group of three individuals doing the same thing. There was something pretty classy about these guys. They talked about running with confidence and experience and when they passed me while I was out running they seemed to glide past with ease, chatting easily among themselves. And so the journey began: I wanted to run with these guys.

Months, possibly a year, passed before I felt confident enough to approach them. I remember that moment as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was doing my usual 6km lunch run and as the kilometres passed I noted I was running constantly under the 4min/km barrier. On concluding the run I confirmed my achievement: 23m30s(ish). And in that instant I knew I could approach this group and ask if I could run with them. There was no turning back.

Looking back now, two of this group, Noel and Brian, became my lifelong friends. Noel and his wife Lian are the driving force behind parkrun New Zealand and I will be running Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (in South Africa) with Brian in March. Almost everything I learned about running came from these two guys. One was the SA Marathon champion during the 1970s and won the Two Oceans Marathon race two years in a row while the other has several silver Comrades medals, plus a couple of Ironman triathlons and many marathons to his name. Under their guidance and tutelage, I learned to run.

What they never taught me and what I feel I’ve only recently discovered is what I call “the joy of running”. Yes, I know; there are many books that explain this phenomenon. But to be truthful you can’t assimilate this feeling until you have experienced it yourself. Running is hard. It’s a sport that challenges everyone and the more you do it, the better you are at understanding how to beat the difficulties associated with it.

That just sounds like the mumbo-jumbo speaks of a crazed-up runner. I’ll try to explain.

When I was running at my best, achieving my best times etc., the “joy” I experienced was that of accomplishment. During the effort I would scream with pain and fatigue from the inside, never showing this weakness to my competitors and drive myself beyond what I thought was possible. There was no joy during the effort. The “joy” that followed was the joy of accomplishment, which comes when you achieve something like a new PB or a year’s best or beating your nemesis. But that’s not the “joy” I talk of now.

Now I am filled with a completely different kind of “joy”. This joy comes with regular exercise and the knowledge that if I pace myself right that I will complete my task well and without injury. It’s the understanding that if I want to run 10 miles then I can. And the joy is often experienced when I am outdoors, communing with nature and sharing the experience with other people, even when I am running alone. Even where I previously ran in some of the world’s most beautiful places, I was usually striving for a goal whereas now I am having a conversation with the world – and I am loving every moment of it. I want more. Joy!

Paul Sinton-Hewitt was born, grew up, ran, had a family, ran, went to work, ran some more. Eventually decided he liked running more than anything else.
www.parkrun.com – @paulsintonhewit
Paul Duke is a fanatical parkrun runner and an equally committed photographer. Though rarely at the same time.

 

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‘Bring me Joy’ first appeared in Issue #9 of Like the Wind magazine. Available now in print.