It's a common question among runners. Why do you run? Some people think it’s some weird fitness obsession and it ends there. Many have memories of cold, muddy school cross country lessons or have slogged around a local city road race. I always ran as a kid but discovered trail running after moving to the Alps for a winter ski season. It was the perfect antidote to my unhealthy seasonnaire’s lifestyle and I soon found myself running further and enjoying it. I met Nikki supporting friends during a race several years ago. We were both running the Mont-Blanc marathon and said we should hook up for a run sometime. I remember being nervous as I was so used to running alone, but before you knew it we were training together as often as our busy schedules permitted, spending weekends in the mountains and planning future races.
We seemed to want the same things from running, to explore new routes and to push ourselves in terms of distance. Ultra-distances and mountain trails appealed to us both, probably as a result of living in Chamonix, the home of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and where running a marathon is not considered an extraordinary thing to do. It hasn’t always been plain sailing though and our relationship with running and with each other has been tested. Like when I got severe, drug-resistant double pneumonia that landed me in intensive care and hospital for 3 weeks and took a ridiculously long time to recover from. Nikki was always there for me, bringing me running films to watch in hospital, new races to consider and a card signed by Kilian Jornet! However it totally destroyed the uphill power I used to enjoy and it also meant that, as we tried to resume training together, I just couldn’t keep up. Not only had I gotten slower, but Nikki had worked hard to get faster and the gap kept on widening. It was tough to come to terms with these changes, but now we appreciate and understand that we have different abilities and needs from the sport, which sometimes are in line with each other and sometimes are not.
Nikki also suffered a major injury which took her out of the running game for the best part of a year. This was another difficult period as Nikki had to sit on the sidelines and miss out on races and adventures that had been planned for a long time. I really missed my running buddy, fully understanding what it felt like to have to take a forced break and miss out on all the fun. When we planned our first overseas trip together with a group of friends, we didn’t start small. We went in, all guns blazing, to the Everest Marathon, which involved flying to Nepal, a two week trek to Everest Base Camp and running a marathon back to Namche Bazaar. Weather conditions were challenging and made the whole experience tough at times, but we took a lot away from that trip and it was the beginning of our plan for this venture. Since then we’ve been to the USA for the 6-day Transrockies Run and have arranged other trips for the Tour du Mont Blanc, the GR5, the Trans Gran Canaria and the Haute Route.
Running is something we both used to pursue separately, but doing it together really has changed our lives. Not only does it give us the confidence to be adventurous, but running as part of a group is safer and enables us to explore more. We travel all over the world with our running pals, making more friends and adding to our merry band in the process. We share ideas about kit, routes, races, off-load work stress and have a flipping good giggle. I really couldn’t imagine life without running, or without Nikki of course! I really hope you can join us to share our passion. Sam x
thoughts, feelings and tribulations about running by runners.