In August 2020, an idea was born. Jonty and I got our heads together in the UK’s first nationwide lockdown, a time that presented opportunities just as it diminished them. We’ve never been the sort to operate well with little on the agenda, so we set our minds on a challenge for the New Year.
It’s on us…
We met in Australia in 2012. Strange given our proximity to one another through our younger years. Jonty and I both lived in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, yet that fateful, first hello, occurred on the other side of the world. If I recall correctly, Jonty spotted one overgrown mane attached to a familiar face a few spaces back in the line at a Maccabees gig. Our friendship would see us catch up around the world in the coming years, work closely with one another in Harrogate and train hard with one another at every opportunity.
Feels like ‘team spirit’…
Our ‘team spirit’ has carried us through periods of weightlifting, cross fit, road trips and outdoor adventures. It’s a dimension of our relationship we both hold dearly and something we’ll never loose. Our characters are too similar in a sense but differ when needed. Periods of fatigue are always matched with passion and drive, where one fails, the other succeeds – which basically means, you’re not allowed to fail for fear of embarrassment. It is all friendly competition, I guess. Truly however, it’s our approach to people and the planet that binds us.
In 2017, while travelling in New Zealand, Jonty introduced me to veganism. As a 1 year vegetarian, the transition wasn’t too challenging, although, as with many, my love for cheese on occasion squandered my commitment, but the ‘cheese police’ were always on stand by to point me in the right direction. As our love for all things plant-based grew, we soon realised It’s not just plant-based living; it’s a way of living, a way of being, a frame of mind, one centred around compassion, empathy, collective resolve and a future for our planet and its inhabitants. It’s these attributes imbedded in our (occasionally) humble Yorkshire minds that sets our ‘pal’-ship in stone.
To the challenge…
After extraordinarily little consideration over a period of about 3 hours, Jonty pitched the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast. We’d long since discussed a team challenge, one that would test us both mentally and physically and one with the right drivers to help us retain our passion and enthusiasm for completion during periods of challenge and fatigue. Although running was something neither of us had dipped our toes into, our mind was made up. Running the Wainwrights Way it is.
After committing to the pitch, Jonty later told me that we would be running 192 miles in 7 days up and over 22,000ft of elevation. A challenge really was afoot.
Enthusiasm or ignorance (Enthus-orance)…
We set out with youthful enthusiasm, or ignorance depending on the lens. With a smile on our face, matching running bags (very deliberate) and a spring in our step. We started running.
Trail running has always seemed rather distant, a sport taken up by ‘mountain folk’ in the far reaches of Cumbria. A sport shrouded from view, one born of a love for seclusion rather than inclusion. Perhaps it is the illusive nature of trail running that attracts so many, the anonymity, in a world where our lives are online. I imagine tails of old fell runners as being conceived around campfires and passed along like Chinese whispers. ‘Someone summited Scafell Pike in record time today’ – I couldn’t tell you who like, or how long it took, but it happened.
I do, however, recall during family trips to the Lake District over the years, moments of surprise and slight disbelief. 6hrs into a hike, finally summiting one of the Lakes momentous climbs, gasping for air under the strain, only to be overtaken in the last meters by someone or something that resembled a runner. From out of the distance, galivanting across undulating terrain with a smile on his/her/its face a figure disappears back down into the clouds just as quickly as it emerges. ‘Where on earth did that come from’ springs to mind, and where on earth is it going. On occasion i’d attempt to follow groups as they cruise past only to fall short some 10 steps later under the crippling pain I felt in my legs. I was baffled. Thinking back now I can still feel the strain in my legs, and I can still remember the overwhelming notion of disbelief.
And now. That’s us.