In early October, I got a text from a mate:
Fancy taking me trail-running?
After years of heading off on my own, running through mud and writing about it, I think it was the first time anyone had asked if I could take them to experience it for themselves.
Yes, John. Yes I do.
I love trail running, and wanted John to enjoy his first go. So I had some thinking to do.
First off: location. If I suggested somewhere far away, it could feel like a hassle; too close to home, the experience wouldn’t be as exhilarating – no offence Cardiff.
Next: distance. Too short a run, it wouldn’t feel worth the effort; too long, it might put him off.
After a bit of chin scratching, I had a place and route in mind.
John, I’m taking you to Aberdare.
All the gear…
Inevitably, the questions started coming:
What gear do I need?
Will I be ok in normal running trainers?
Do I need a rucksack?
If you read trail running magazines and online articles, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need to spend hundreds of pounds on the latest kit and gadgetry. Guess what? You don’t.
I checked and he had the basics: shorts, top, running trainers and a swanky new waterproof jacket.
John, you’re good to go.
I should say, I always take a rucksack trail running. I carry water, a basic first-aid kit and a spare layer. I am sensible sometimes.
What a day. Autumn in full swing, showing off the South Wales Valleys in all their glory.
Trail running isn’t about distance or time. We just ran up some hills, and down others. It was glorious. And I’d forgotten how fun it is running with a friend, chatting shit.
So, the big question: did John enjoy his first trail run?
Yes, he loved it. So much so, he came with me again a fortnight later.
After his second trail run, I asked him what he made of it:
I love how quiet it is. There’s definitely a solitude.
The air feels cleaner.
And it’s more challenging. I can feel it in my legs the next day, and I like that.