Why not do something that no one else had done before?
I expect you could think of some better ways to spend 15 months of your lives? But for David (my husband) and me, it all seemed quite logical: we were both 34, we had just anchored our home (an old wooden sailing boat) off southern Chile after finishing our work surveying seabirds; we had no ties, no children or commitments; and we yearned for adventure and to do something monumental for the wildlife and wilderness we adore.
Why not run? Why not do something that no one else had done before?
Why not? Because the furthest we’d run was 45 miles! Put it this way- our odds of success were rock bottom. We love running, love everything about that simple little three letter word- ‘Run’- but to run day after day, for months on ends, for thousands of miles… our family, our friends, anyone we met-thought we were mad.
But being natural kind of folk who enjoy the simple things in life, it was running and still is running that offers the key to seeing and understanding our world. You don’t need any kit, perhaps some shoes, but even those are arbitrary (you’ll soon grow to love the textures of earth, soft turf, deep leaf litter, even warm asphalt when you discard them) then it’s just you, your thoughts, bird song and the hills. Remember we were made to run- it’s the most natural mode of transport for Homo sapien, just as Chris McDougall points out in Born to Run.
Countless people are re-discovering running. Watch young children- they run with abandon, hollowing at the top of their lungs, with large toothy grins. It’s just a case of rediscovering that freedom. Adventurer, Alastair Humphreys, remembers that childlike joy in this video and Richard Askwith describes so eloquently the joy of running in nature in his superb book, ‘Running Free’.
‘And for a moment I, too, have ceased to be a dumpy, nondescript jogger and am simply a human being, running free, barefooted, fearless and full of life.’
The other key to running South America was that it allowed us to meet the wildlife and soak up the wildernesses for which we were running, like no other form of passage.
...running would allow us to penetrate the moods of the land and its creatures. With only a couple of millimetres of ‘barefoot’ shoe-soles separating us from the earth’s heartbeat, often only our unshod skin, we would move silently, stealthily, creeping up on wildlife, a whisper away from discovery, a step from the unknown and unexpected. (extract from Running South America with my Husband and other animals).