Take a group of runners from the city (concrete, street art, bustle) to the mountains (trails, fresh air, solitude, views) and find out what happens. That’s the concept behind Hood to Trail, an adventure that became a film.
Wherever there are cities, runners pound the pavements, come together and form groups or clubs and (more recently) crews. For Hood to Trail a group of runners from RunDemCrew in London, Wolfpack in Copenhagen and Patta Running Crew in Rotterdam – none of whom had ever experienced running on Alpine trails – gathered in Lyon. Here they started a three-day journey that took them from familiar concrete to the unknown heights of the mountain trails.
In Lyon, the heat was intense. Climbing the valley sides meant hundreds of lung-busting stone steps that seem to go on forever. Everyone is doubled-over by the time they reach the top, although a few of the faster runners recover and head back down to accompany those bringing up the back of the pack to the summit. But it’s still a city; onwards to Chamonix.
As soon as the runners arrive in Chamonix they are whisked up the side of the valley to watch the finish of the UTMB ultramarathon. Standing among the peaks, the scale of the landscape suddenly becomes apparent, and next day is the first on the trails for the city runners. Instead of thinking in terms of landmarks and subway stations, the runners have to study maps and point up to mountain peaks. They learn that climbs can go on for hours, and that walking is not a sign of weakness but often the fastest way uphill. They discover what it is like to run fast over rocky ground. They practise eating on the move. All of which hammers home the point that these runners are in a very alien landscape now.
After two days above the tree line, back in Chamonix the runners are all in agreement - the mountains are a very special place, but not necessarily for the same reason. For Ashanti from RunDemCrew, the experience was “stunning” but for London-based Elliot, it was “just painful”. For Said, from Rotterdam, the two days were “Spiritual on some level. Like reconnecting with yourself and what you’re capable of doing.” Anne, from London, says: “I am really proud of myself. I really had to push myself today. That was tough.” Over and over again the urban runners talk about how totally different running in the mountains is from running in their cities. As RunDemCrew’s Fred Butler says; “This has been a totally life-changing experience. I will definitely be back.”
28 May 2019 by George Fisher
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