Moving outside, making a journey has always been something that forms a very central part of my life. Whether learning how to access the countryside in Sussex amongst the network of footpaths, bridleways and areas of commonage like Ashdown Forest, or later out on the open ocean, the journey has always been important.
I am less a cyclist, less a runner, less a sailor, less a mountaineer, less a runner, less a paddler, less a biker than I have ever been. The label of the activity feeling like it has given way to a 'journeyman'.
The love of running is the total simplification of the journey. The stripping back
of superfluous equipment. The removal of the 'need' for different kit. Just me, my engine, my knowledge and a direction to travel.
In all the journeys I have I end up with a little more knowledge. And this is knowledge I take into different journeys. What I learnt on a motorbike in the Sahara is useful when running. It may seem strange but it is deeply true.
The passion to share these skills has always been with me, but it has taken a long time to solve how those skills go together. Organising Dolgellau parkrun I find more enjoyable than running in the parkrun. I realised quite early on, that the people that were finishing in under 30 minutes value support, but don't need it. It is the people on the other side of the 30 mins that usually value that support more. That is the reason to be there, for me. Not for first finisher, but for the parkrunner who is, through parkrun addressing a massive personal challenge.
I suppose I have only creepingly accepted that my ability to go long distances, albeit not at the front of an event is slightly unusual. I can look at a map, judge my ability, need for kit, and then go and make that journey, usually comfortably.
Handing on that confidence is something that I find totally, and deeply fulfilling. The birth of no-mad running and it's development is one that has caused me some real head scratches. A few people have suggested that for what we do, we should charge more. And that, fundamentally cuts across one of my beliefs about being a journeyman.
Passing on skills is about a passion. Education is something that has to be affordable to all. It would be slightly hard for me to stomach if the person that would benefit from learning outdoor skills was restricted by the fact that I wanted to wholly fund my life from running.
But if no-mad running can finance my time to be outside, and pass on skills then it would truly feel like I had made a successful lifestyle. I'm fortunate I suppose in that my day job is also flexible, because I have made it that way. So I have two lifestyles, one that supports the other, and vice versa. Every day is a school day.
But for me, the running brings me something even more special. The feedback of the attendees!