Tuesday, August 14, 2012


"There are loads of footprints... there are lots of different paths you can take. Which set of footprints to you take, or do you make your own pathway? That's the same as life." Ryan Sandes

I love seeing footprints on the ground yet, at the same time, I love seeing none on the ground. Footprints give you a sense of comfort, someone else has walked this path, it seems less daunting, even less lonely. When you go a path where you are the first person to imprint on the path with your footsteps it's an incredibly liberating feeling, a feeling of achievement, adventure and discovery.

I spent the last winter in the ski resort Mürren. It was one of the best snow season we have had in a long time, with frequent fresh powder - snowfall at night, clear blue skies durin the days. I enjoy skiing incredibly, but since I've been taking running more seriously I have grown alot more respectful towards it, out of fear of injuring myself and compromising my running. Which, when you rationalize it, is a stupid way to think because there is a certain risk to everything in life, even running in the snow. I suppose we prefer to take on a risk that we feel in control of. I feel more in control when running than when skiing.

 I was concerned about how I could keep up my mileage throughout the winter season, and the idea of running on a treadmil wasn't all that inviting. Running, to me, is not just about the action of running, but also about the interaction with nature and testing myself against the elements. Mürren posed the perfect challenge for testing myself against the elements and leaving the first footprints in freshly fallen snow.

On the morning of my 23rd Birthday I wanted to literally run into the next year of my life (and when I say morning I'm talking about the first minutes that are classed as A.M), so at precisely 11:59pm I set off on a 23km run to mark the age I was turning. The conditions could not have been any more perfect. During that day and into the evening a good 30cm of snow had fallen and dusted the paths and ski slopes with a lucious fluff. As I set off ro run, the sky was showing off its beauty with stars glittering accross the sky and a full moon lighting my way. i wanted to make this a challenging but fun run, a run to last, a run to remember. I followed the path to Gimmeln, a small mountain restaurant, where I then jumped on the freshly groomed ski slopes (I am never again going to take the work of those guys for granted!!), creating a perfect grip for a long uphill slog. My target was to get to the top of the Schiltgrat, and at times the incline was so steep I could only crest (the sometimes minor) hills by going up on all fours. If the opportunity arrose I veered off-piste to dance around (I do mean run, but dancing adds an element of fun) in the thigh-high snow.
There was nothing but the sparkling sky, the snow and myself. I felt free. I felt worryless. I felt happy. After a good hour I made it to the top of the Schiltgrat chairlift station looking back (as far as my eyes could see in the dark) on my footprints in the otherwise untouched snow. A speedy descent followed before I began the next climb. This pattern continued for quite some time - ascent followed by descent... A bit like life, it goes up, it goes down... it gets hard, it gets easy and sometimes, like it was the case that night, you can find a good side in both aspects.

There's something inviting, mystical and scary about forests. As I approached the last 10km of my Birthday run I ran towards it with caution. The forest is where I realized that my footprints weren't the first to hit the ground, there were already some paths made from rabits and one that seemed to be that of a fox. Oh panic tickled me for the first time. It was time for the headlamp to come out for duty and with that my terrible singing skills, as I was convinced my singing would scare any pradetor away. That panic was only temporary however, as I began to focus on the trail ahead and the paw prints in the snow, which followed no consistent pattern and zig-zagged from one side of the path to the other. The fox paw prints disappeared. I relaxed.
I didn't want that run to end, but I was starting to get cold and only had 1km left until I hit my target. My footprints ended infront of my house.

There are footprints everywhere... some are visible, some invisible. Sometimes you walk alone, sometimes you walk in company. Your path and footprints are unique.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you." - Mary Stevenson

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