As Sophie Radcliffe told us in a recent edition of Trail Running, the best adventures often involve running
Adventure is a way of life that I love, because it fills my days with experiences and memories. You don’t need to get on an aeroplane, spend a lot of money or have a huge amount of time to create an adventure for yourself. Sometimes the most memorable adventures are the ones closest to home; the ones that we create somewhat spontaneously, that give us a chance to press pause on life and do what we love. These are what I call ‘soul-food adventures’.
I’m buzzing with a childlike sense of wonder and excitement as I down tools at midday on an idle Friday in August. I catch a train out of London towards the South Downs. My plan is simple:
to spend the afternoon running and exploring the trails before setting up camp for a night in the wilderness. I cannot wait.
Just two hours after leaving my house in London, and I’m surrounded by trees, with the sunlight filtering through the forest canopy. I ditch my wild camping equipment in the place I intend to sleep, so I can run freely. It took me years to fall in love with running, but it was discovering trail running that inspired my passion for this sport. I am not sure there are many things as pure, simple and free as running in the forest, trails, or mountains. Just put shoes on and… go!
I run with no fixed agenda, just exploring and pushing myself. I’ll always remember the words of wisdom a friend shared with me moments before the start of my first triathlon, “Don’t forget to smell the roses.” I keep these words with me; I am here to create new experiences, feel alive and fall in love with running a little bit more.
I stop and admire the view. I’m not far from a city that is home to over 8 million people, yet in the hours I’ve been running I’ve seen only a handful of people, walking their dogs.
I don’t care about how fast or how far I run – it’s the pursuit of adventure that entices me to create these experiences. It’s the allure of the challenge to make the most of my life that inspires me to think of new ways to combine exercise and adventure.
The endorphins are pumping as I head back to my wild camping spot. Although I love a night bivvying under the stars, tonight I’ve opted for something a little different; a hammock. You could also use a small tent, but I love the simplicity of a hammock or bivvy bag, and the opportunity it gives me to feel connected with nature.
I use my jet boil to heat up water, stir it into my couscous and mix it with sliced chorizo and cheese. Camp food can be as low key or elaborate as you like. Go to town if you wish! Making the camping that is part of the adventure fun and comfortable is a great way to entice friends to join you – especially those who may be concerned about getting outside of their comfort zone.
The night is a little cold and restless. I wake up a few times and watch the trees above me swaying gently in the wind. My ceiling is a forest, I close my eyes and listen to the sounds before falling back to sleep.
Sunrise wakes me up and I jump into action. I eat flapjacks for breakfast before breaking down camp and heading to the river. There’s nothing quite like a cool dip to wake me up after a restless night’s sleep!
They say you are only one workout away from a good mood – well, I have never witnessed anyone wake up from a wild camp and regret their decision to try give it a go.
We all need a little adventure and excitement in our lives, we all crave the feeling of leaving it all behind and heading into the wilderness. When I pack my days full of adventure, they feel long and treasured. When I look back on the year, these are the days I remember, and I vow to create more of them. It reminds me that adventure can be a way of life and a mindset we choose – it’s there for all of us to create, share and live. So go live your adventure.