So we’re all ready to run a fantastic trail race down at Anglesea this weekend, right? I’ve got a surprise for you – finishers in the Salomon Trail Series Race 4 will be handed a free copy of my first book (well, every third finisher across the finish line)!
I’m going for the medium course myself, 14.6k of trail goodness that I cannot wait to re-visit. Some of you are going longer – much, much longer. As in 100 km in the Surfcoast Century, or 50km, or working in a relay team and doing more than a half-marathon on these same trails.
Others (and some of the same from Saturday) will join me for Race 4 of the Salomon Trail Series, with distances ranging from the long course (22.7km), the medium (14.6 km) and the short (and speedy 7.6km).
Here’s the thing: when the Salomon Trail Series came along several years ago, it came at a time when I really needed it. I had moved to Melbourne from Hong Kong with two young children. In Hong Kong, I had fallen in love with Adventure Racing and trail running, losing myself in the mountains around that vast city several times a week, and thus finding myself.
But in Melbourne, I didn’t know the woods. I didn’t know if it was safe for a woman to venture there alone and in my new circle of moms, there were no trail runners. I was bereft; I missed my woods and trails. I missed the sense of freedom I had found in Hong Kong alone in the wilderness. I looked and looked for Adventure Races and trail runs, but couldn’t find what I was looking for.
Then one day, I saw the first mention of the Salomon Trail Series. I think the slogan back then was “Bitumen is Boring”, which made me giggle aloud. I signed up for the series of races within moments. I’ve done so every year since.
Those races saved my life. I had fallen into post-natal, post-immigrant, learn-how-to-cook-and-be-mom-after-expat-life depression. Life was dark. Really dark. I couldn’t find my way out of it. But suddenly, after the first series of races, I could see some light; I knew I could save myself back on the trails.
Those first races, I drove out alone, navigating in the dark, getting lost, getting found. I played Bon Jovi loud on the car stereo and sang songs about hope and freedom. I climbed mountains and ran single-tracks, tripped and fell and skinned my knees, dusted myself off again, and came back the next year, and the next. I re-learned how to drive, where the roads go, how to be alone with myself. I found my voice and my writing again.
Over time, I began to know faces, then names. I joined a relay team for the Surfcoast Century and ran further than I’d ever run before. On Facebook, I found a community of runners who I could meet for longer runs, and I discovered that I could run safely alone in the Dandenongs, using the trail series trails, and maps from other trail races I ran. My world opened back up again.
This year has been a year of injury and recovery. Sadly, I have only managed the first race of the series, with the short 5k option at Studley Park being my longest run in months. The elation I felt in being back out there is hard to put into words. Travel to New York to say farewell to a relative meant I missed out on Plenty Gorge, and my 20th wedding anniversary meant Olinda was out too. But I watched you all run the trails in photos and Facebook feeds, and felt the elation, the pain, the thrill.
I’ve built up very gradually from injury to manage a 15k run two weeks ago in the Dandenongs, and given myself the green light to complete the medium course in Anglesea this weekend – hooray!
I will be forever grateful to the Salomon Trail Series organisers and sponsors for showing me the way out of the dark, back to the trails I love. I want to give something back to the trail community, and it seems fitting to make the give-away happen at a Rapid Ascent event.
So I’ve decided to give away 400 copies of my first book, In Pursuit of Joy: Life Lessons from Exhilaration. Rapid Ascent and Salomon have teamed up to get the book down to Anglesea, and will be handing it out at the finish line of the Salomon Trail Series Race 4 on Sunday. I believe their plan is to hand one to every 3rd finisher, so watch out for the bright orange book coming your way.
I hope you enjoy this gift from the trail. The stories I share in the book are ones from my world of sport that shaped me, and the lessons that they taught me. Please follow my blog for more news about my third book, which is shaping up as I type. This one will be another novel – about adventure, of course, running, most certainly, and life-changing through trail racing.
See you on the trails this weekend if you are headed down to Anglesea – give me a high-five or shout-out if you are following my blog. I’d love to say hello!