There’s something special about travelling on foot. Moving across the terrain under your own steam, the different pace puts the environment into a fresh perspective for me.
I’m always amazed at how distances are covered in less time than anticipated, with the journey enriched by a multitude of new details, smells and sounds previously unnoticed. Hiking used to be the way for me to experience this joy – and I still love the slow pace and contemplation of multi-day trips. However, the increasing needs of a small family led me to look for a more efficient way to connect with my primal instincts and keep fit – and I discovered running. Nowadays I cover as much ground in a third of the time, so I can fit in my weekly fix of wilderness or urban jaunts without sacrificing my family life.
Being active and physical really relaxes my mind and the feeling of moving freely and lightly through my world inspires me. It’s a place for me to think, slow stuff down and answer questions that matter to me in my modern life. Since being more mindful of the connection to my environment while on foot I’m starting to see the social and emotional value of travelling by foot. We tend to spend most our lives these days getting from A to B as quickly as possible – usually in a vehicle with little regard for what’s in between – drawing thin threads on the map between our homes and workplaces. I have recently decided to start joining the dots by foot, as a way to feel more connected with my day-to-day world.
Being active and physical really relaxes my mind and the feeling of moving freely and lightly through my world inspires me.
What inspired this project was running from my office in downtown Auckland to my home in the foothills of the Waitakeres. A boring 45 minutes commute became a lovely couple of hours jogging through suburbs previously unexplored, past sights previously only glimpsed at from the window of a crowded train. I gained a better understanding of how these two places key to my everyday life are related to each other. With this approach in mind I kept going and connected my local trail runs at Cascades Kauri to this growing web of explored urban terrain. Then I added a friend’s house who I usually only drove to, and so on.
With the latest addition of this year’s Hillary trail run, I have now satisfyingly covered a route travelling all the way from Downtown Auckland to Muriwai beach on the West Coast. It’s also given me the confidence to reach further and further afield. Exploration on foot is helping me feel more grounded, and giving me a little chance to step out of the rat race once in a while and slow things down.