Our support team was made up of Dave MacFarlane, James Vincent, Mohamed the driver, Natalie White and Petra the stray dog and we’ve all been sharing James’ photos and rewatching Dave’s film in the recent weeks of lockdown.
At a time when we cannot go on adventures far and wide, looking back at our own and looking at other people’s has been a lovely way to put a smile on the face and keep motivation high for the future.
In the 9 days, it took us to run the length of the country, through towns, villages and remote landscapes, we never imagined that a year later such a trip would not only be impossible but also highly irresponsible given the current pandemic.
The simple joy of meeting a stranger and shaking their hand would be a no-no and this might well be the way for the future, although as Dan said to me just the other day:
“A smile is easy and it’s infectious too”.
The simple things
Looking back one might imagine the highlights such as the ancient city of Petra or the view on the Dana Biosphere would stick in, but given I’ve been inside for six weeks, cycling on our balcony, it’s some of the simpler things that make me thankful.
The joy of planning an adventure with friends, be it a Sunday long run somewhere new or more exotic excisions like the Jordan Trail. As someone full of ideas there is always a potential adventure in the pipeline. The dreaming, scheming and, on the rare occasion it all comes together, the adventure itself, are all wonderful.
Should we just give up or can we rescale? It might not be possible, or sensible, to travel far and wide for our jollies, but that needn’t mean adventure needs to go on hold. Your local area may well hold jewels you were never aware of, just waiting to be discovered.
Equally, we can redefine what an adventure is. It’s not just about magical landscapes, but a journey into the unknown, the risk of failure and the uncertainty that truly make an adventure and you could find that anywhere if you look hard enough.
One of the joys of Jordan is how friendly the locals are. The people are mostly genuinely happy to see you, even when you appear out of a bush on a trail they never knew existed!
Yet in the current pandemic, we’re seeing people connect more than ever but in different ways. Meeting new people has suddenly become more difficult, but not impossible.
A whole host of new people are coming into running and when parkruns, clubs and races start up again, we should be working to make the new people feel welcome.
Even now, on daily outings as a runner we might be causing a bit of anxiety to those we run past, but a big smile, even if often unreturned, can go a long way. It definitely helped us in Jordan.
Appreciate the tough times
One thing that stuck out on the Jordan Trail was that however difficult some sections got, and believe me they were ridiculous, it just made us appreciate running through Wadi Rum or an awe-inspiring slot canyon that much more special.
Many will be suffering from motivation currently and that’s okay, it’s only natural when faced with continued adversity, but when you’re back at the first parkrun or race, the next time you can join your mates for a long run on the Downs, it’ll be one of the best runs you’ve ever had.
After six weeks of solely exercising indoors, as the rules have been a little stricter here in Italy, just the idea of getting outside fills me with joy.
The Jordan Trail had some very obvious ups and downs, but also a few that were a little more subtle – cross words between friends actually made us closer in the long run. Being able to share the whole trail with Dan is one of the greatest highlights of my running career, similar to sharing the Kom-Emine trail with Nats and our friend Ry.
It’s about the people, not the place.
Which is the whole point, running isn’t a solo activity for the vast majority of us and that’s had to change recently.
But far from forcing us apart, in some ways, the running community is more connected than ever before. Virtual races, webinars and club WhatsApp groups have grown massively in recent weeks and when a bit more normality returns we’ll have it all.
Jordan is a beautiful country and the sights, as you can see from James’ pictures, are spectacular. Yet it the lasting memories 12 months on aren’t dominated by the geography or the history, but the friendships.
Tough times can bring us all closer together, so hopefully 12 months further down the line we’ll all be enjoying a run with friends again.