Before I launch into that adventure though, the last few weeks have been pretty epic too…
In a nutshell (albeit maybe one of the larger species), I’ve learnt basic Italian, passed the HF Holidays three-day assessment to lead in their Italian resorts (yippee!!), spent a weekend in Ribblesdale leading the Yorkshire Three Peaks on a freelance basis and launched the first few Feet in the Clouds walks on Ingleborough and closer to home in Nidderdale, more on which another time.
On top of all that though, and pretty damn exciting in itself, I spent a week in Peterborough on ‘grown up’ work experience (‘internship’?) with Trail Running magazine, and got to dip my toes into the wider Bauer Media pool of Country Walking and of course my old favourite, Trail. The three all sit together in a corner of the HUGE open plan offices holding around 80 of the UK’s most well-known glossies and special interest mags.
I’d been familiar with Trail Running for a while and while I’m not the world’s most motivated runner I do love whizzing (OK, shuffling) along the top of the moors, I’ve done my share of Lakeland Trails and I'm doing Kielder in October – my first marathon!
And in a similar fashion to armchair mountaineering, I’ve become fascinated with tales of insane trail and fell ultramarathoners, with Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run and, unsurprisingly, Richard Askwith’s Brit classic Feet in the Clouds (and yes, I got his permission!) all recently adorning my bedside table.
It’s a ‘sport’ of almost mythically superhuman proportions in comparison with glorified popular disciplines. It’s also unbelievably accessible in that these people are just ordinary lads and lasses who work all week then just happen to run up and down 42 peaks or so on the weekend for fun. And it’s all through commitment and love of the hills. Anyone could do it. I know regular hillwalkers and runners who’ve decided they might just do a bit of trail running, then a few more miles, perhaps a marathon… could chuck a few slopes in now I guess… Oh! I appear to be doing the Bob Graham!
Not me, you understand: I don’t have the motivation. True, I’m also not super fit, I don’t have a healthy physique, I’m not long-legged and I don’t skip up and down hills like they aren’t there... but those are not the issues. The beauty of ultra and fell running (after the scenery of course!) is that it’s about Keeping Going. Who cares if you can’t sprint? I know that if I run regularly, I get better, I put in more miles, and my limits lie not with ability but at the point where complacency inevitably, for me, overtakes dedication. I know that when I keep training, I never get faster, but I do go further. And further. And throw a couple of long distance walks into the mix and my stamina goes through the roof. So I’m addicted to ultrarunners’ adventures because, in those moments with those guys, I honestly believe: that could be me too. Even short-legged, slightly overweight, asthmatic, anaemic me.
So. Anyway. Wasn’t this post about working on a magazine?!
My first day was spent primarily proof-reading and editing text – and although it might sound monotonous, I’m afraid I’m one of those red-pen people. I love proof-reading! It’s also kinda fun as a newbie to get a first read of all the new stories, gear, events, features, and really get under their skin. If you like the subject you’re working on – great! It’s like reading the magazine for free! At the end of the day though, my first assignment was go: some chap called Steve is doing a big run, will you interview him? Ah – the ultrarunning digression was relevant, you see!
Joss Naylor, the legendary Lake District fell runner and shepherd, ran all 214 Wainwright peaks in a little over seven days. 28 years ago. He still holds the record and nobody else has been daft enough to try it. Oh yeah? Meet Steve!
In June, Steve Birkinshaw is going to launch an attempt on Joss’s record. Surviving on 4 hours’ sleep a night, eating on the go and with a streamlined route plan, can he top his Dragon’s Back win (a 5 day mountain race from north to south Wales) and change the fell-running history books? This normal guy from Threlkeld who works and supports a young family? It’s all incredibly exciting and you can read about it in the next issue of Trail Running magazine! ;)
What struck me throughout the week at Bauer was how easy it was to feel at home in a large office again when you have the right people. Subject matter makes a monumental difference - we might have been sat at computers in the flatlands of Peterborough, but when all day is spent living and breathing running and mountain talk, with runners and mountain folk, it’s about as good as it gets without physically being Out There. And they’re a great team too, which I genuinely enjoyed being part of for a brief few days. Even the crazy week of constant running/walking/pilates and even swimming with the Stamford Tri Club (excellent coaches!) that happens when you try working with Claire, Trail Running’s editor!
I’d also been sort of expecting the whole ‘stuffing envelopes’ side of work experience, so as a slightly older-than-average intern it was brilliant to launch straight into actual editing, interviewing and writing – and to get the feedback and advice required when you’re interested in the outdoor media but don’t really know much about working in it.
All in all great teams, great experience, great advice… and I never thought I’d say this, but: a great week in the office!!
You can catch both Joss Naylor and Steve Birkinshaw - along with TR Editor Claire Maxted - at the Keswick Mountain Festival from 15-18 May 2014: www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk