So, we all started our trail running journeys somewhere. For some it was a little track in a local park, for others it was an exotic location like the French Alps. For me, it all began in the Blue Mountains. Not the more famed tracks of Katoomba, but the lesser-known and relatively unfrequented fire trails of Bowen Mountain in the Hawkesbury, north of the Three Sisters. It was here I first fell in love with the freedom and sense of peace found on a mountain path. The scenery was not so spectacular nor the climbs particularly challenging, however I was generally the only soul out there, other than the occasional lyrebird, kangaroo, echidna or snake.
This period in my life was when I was a young track runner. My event of choice was the 800m and my weekly training was more about having fun than racking up mileage. Little did I know that 20 years later I would find myself doing races more than 100x the distance! Today, I don’t step on an athletics track. My Achilles couldn’t handle it. Now I spend the vast majority of my running hours pounding the pavements and roads of inner-city Sydney, dreaming of mountains and rocky trails. I look back at those formative running years and think of how blessed I was to not only have great people like my coach at the time (Marilyn Pearson) providing me guidance, but also to have had a training ground that was so unique and beautiful.
It was only recently that it dawned on me that my ‘Trail of Origin’ probably formed the foundation of where my running journey has arrived today. I might not be suited to running in the mountains, but that’s where my heart lies. I may not be a natural descender, but I love the feeling barrelling down a slope. The distances of ultra trail events are beyond what my physique and engine are ideally built, but it’s being away from the masses in a remote place where I experience the greatest running highs.
Reflection is a powerful and important thing. I was really struggling to find the time or energy to train the last couple of months. Work was the priority and cold, short days made me reluctant to head out for a run when brief windows of opportunity presented themselves. It was starting to make me a little worried that maybe it was time to find a new hobby that required a little less effort. Thankfully though, after putting Western States behind me and enjoying some hiking in the mountains of Yosemite and Yellowstone, the fire was rekindled. My advice to every trail runner is when you think you’re starting to lose the love of the sport, take a step back, think of where your running journey began and revisit what really inspires you to lace up the kicks – rediscover your motivation!