Thoughts on flying home from filming the UTMB

I went back to Chamonix, France for a second time this summer to film the UTMB race for a running industry brand as part of a film by Ryan Scura over at Dooster and Andy Cochrane. They have been working on this project for the past couple of months and I was just filling in some gaps with coverage of the UTMB race and general Chamonix footage. The > 100-mile race is a huge deal in the running industry world.

“And art, when it’s your work, can be a complicated beast of a thing, because the very thing that gives you life can sometimes cause you great anxiety, as you’re trying to make your living from the thing that you love to do.”

Pádraig Ó Tuama from Poetry Unbound

Three views of Mont Blanc from Chamonix

I love trail races but I now feel very mixed about this one. Working more than 24 hours without sleep I saw, filmed, and felt a huge range of things. It was wonderful to be in so many amazingly beautiful places across France, Italy, and Switzerland and watch runners work so hard (plus! I got to stay with Alex in Servoz!). It was less than inspiring to see over-the-top marketing activations next to historic churches and negative human emotions from spectators and PR folks as they try and catch a glimpse of a few runners. Everyone just seemed at a breaking point and the whole thing seemed even more commercial than the Boston Marathon. I have no regrets about taking on the project, I just didn’t expect to feel this way.

Runners approaching the Grand Col Ferret on the Italy/Switzerland Border

The aftermath of the race left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I think I need a running and film redemption for myself. I want to make art and do weird stuff and work locally with more local people.

The boundaries between work and life are really important to me and an event like this made it really difficult to separate the two and left me spread too thin. I had been looking forward to it for months and felt like it was an impossible task to succeed at. Now the hard part is to see the obstacles and letdowns but push forward with beauty and joy and transform this into a richer thing rather than just feeling hollow. I’m trying for that progress, not perfection, mentality but it’s hard.

Lac Blanc

Onwards! As my wonderful wife, Emma said in her pretend wedding ceremony she recorded for the day we were originally supposed to get married, “All of it will be beautiful. Beauty in facing those hard times together… holding each other up.” This month, we are doing Austin Kleon’s 30-day “Practice and Suck Less” challenge. My daily goals are to: cultivate moments of awe and surf or skate every day. I’m still not sure what her daily thing to practice will be but she’s got 12 hours (or really an entire lifetime) to figure it out.

La Ciotat with Emma back in June

Some classic running inspiration by Mainer Bernd Heinrich

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