I’ve just just been interviewed over at our friends Good Fuel Co. It’s always nice to think deeper into our purpose as a project, talk about creativity, running and some personal aspects of my life.
Good Fuel Co: Good People Run (GPR) is full of stories about why people run. Personally, why do you run? (and how did you start?).
Paul Petch: I run to be a little less mental and to eat carbs :) (A great reply to the same question from katesutton.co.uk that I now use!) The side effect for me is better health, a clearer head, facilitating the meeting of great people, being outside and a place for just me to be. I do love the buzz too ;) I’ve run ‘on and off’ for a number of years but not consistently until about 2009 after falling out of love with cycling and just hitting the trails in the Porthills Christchurch. Since then i’ve run all sorts of stuff from marathons / ultra’s to XC and road, with 10 – 22km being my favourite distance these days.
Good Fuel Co: What sort of running do you do these days? … what happens if you don’t run?
Paul Petch: Most of my running these days are on city streets or forest fire roads. I love the act of a good honest run and these runs translate really well for me when I get off road on more technical tracks at events – with runnable parts in between. If I don’t run I feel quite heavy and my brain has a kind of ‘mind fog’. Once I get outside and move my body it clears. Running is the best way to clear my head, but cycling, hiking, sitting next to the ocean watching the sunset- helps too. Just moving everyday in some way is the key I feel.
Good Fuel Co: What are some unique aspects of running that you get to experience as a photographer? Who or what influences you in your work?
Paul Petch: I suppose the most unique aspect of being a running photographer is that I get to spend time outdoors doing what I love to do- and capture the beauty and joy of what it is to be a runner. It’s very uplifting. It’s often a great work out too. I don’t really follow other people’s work as I don’t like to compare myself daily in the digital arena. Saying that, photographers on Instagram who travel and shoot outdoor photography inspire me.
These days I’m more into less is more in my approach and gear- and value travel and people highly. From this approach, I find my work evolves naturally influenced by change and environment not so much trends.
Good Fuel Co: What’s been your most memorable adventure / shoot so far and why?
Paul Petch: There have been a few! But the first shoot I did with Salomon Runners Anna Frost, Grant Guise and Matt Bixley at Mount Taranaki (2600M) is still my fave. This experience was really my first paid job as an adventure photographer and the mountain let us all ‘play’ that whole weekend. Some amazing friendships were made, and I learnt some valuable lessons as a shooter too. The main one being that it’s the experiences and people that make great images – not the gear.
Good Fuel Co: You’re involved in alot of organisations/ projects on top of a full-time job as a photographer… and must be juggling an incredibly packed schedule! What keeps you going when you don’t feel like running?
Paul Petch: These days I feel very fortunate in that my work is actually my life. I’m doing what I love (most of the time :)) and work fits into my life- not the other way round. I get a lot of spare time to go on adventures, focus on personal passion projects or simply do nothing. I’ve also had the opportunity to spend alot of time with my young Son Thomas since he arrived nearly five years ago. Being a work from home dad for 4 days down to 2 currently is a real bonus of my work. We spend a lot of time doing stuff together, and I love this. So what keeps me going when I don’t feel like running? Everything above as it’s just running after all :) Running is important to me, but so is everything else.
Good Fuel Co: You’ve travelled alot and would have experienced many different people and places. What differences have you seen in the running community between NZ and other countries? What’s universal?
Paul Petch: I suppose I’ve travelled a bit. I’m originally from England and came via Australia in 2000 to NZ in 2007. I’ve lived in various places in these three countries and what’s pretty universal – is that running is pretty universal! I think this is one main joy of running actually, that it’s a very levelling sport where skin colour, your profession, or status means nothing. Everyone is equal who runs. Sure there are people running for glory and narcissism, like every sport, but most runners are ‘just working out’.
Good Fuel Co: What role do you see creativity and art in shaping contemporary running culture?
Paul Petch: I feel that we are all visual people as runners. Take a look at the time taken to choose the matching running kit alone! We aspire to be part of a tribe as runners and the stories we share through imagery connects us. Uploading an instagram image is part of the process right through to the streets we run on, or the stunning views outdoors. As a society today we are all exposed to so much imagery that we know what’s good- what’s legit- what’s real. Running has evolved to so much more than the act- it’s beautiful.
There is a moving meditation through running too that I believe connects us to our surroundings, unlocks thought and creativity, and the act of simplicity. This to me is where we see art and creativity which surrounds us – and this is now becoming a focus and shaping contemporary running culture through being mindful.
Good Fuel Co: How might more running potentially change the world?
Paul Petch: With numbers of 70,000+ runners participating at single events alone across the globe- it’s pretty simple to see our collective potential. I actually feel running is already changing the world because each person who runs spreads that knowledge to others of it’s healthy lifestyle benefits.
We have forgotten along the way that we are animals who are meant to move everyday. Running and it’s community is a way to make people think more about movement. Simply put, in a world struggling with depression and obesity – runners are fantastic role models for all generations who hardly move at all it seems.
Good Fuel Co: What would you like to see GPR become?
Paul Petch: I’d like to see GPR become my full-time job where we travel the globe documenting the amazing aspects of our culture, while being a catalyst for helping others through running. We have a self published zine called GRIT too that over time, we would love to see develop with more global contributions. For our second year we have plans for a podcast and more. We love this project so much and with so many people involved already from artists to scientists, the scope is huge for our growth.
Good Fuel Co: What would you say to artists, designers, photographers or writers interested in getting involved with GPR?
Paul Petch: We are always looking for people to contribute so come join us to share your passions and stoke over at http://www.goodpeoplerun.co.nz/call-artists and goodpeoplerun.co.nz/contribute-to-good-people-run
Check out the article over at www.goodfuel.co