Dec 19, 2022

I’ve just been in touch with Tim Franklin and he is about to board the ferry from Picton (top of the South Island) to Wellington (bottom of the North Island). He’s been running for a little over two weeks now, continuing to average over 60 km per day. Follow his journey on https://www.facebook.com/tim.franklin.948.

I didn’t do a fast run last Friday. I’m taking it easy at the moment, trying to gauge how this affects the stress fracture in my left foot. I’d call it an investigatory phase. I’m trying to determine if it’s curable without stopping running completely. Hopefully it is.

Today’s running article is particularly relevant to anyone interested in running around the world, or to similar but shorter adventures.


Journey Running – is it a fad?

As a popular sport, distance running has only been around for about fifty years. Until Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon title at Munich in 1972, there simply weren’t many non-professional joggers. But, within a decade, the number of recreational runners had increased exponentially.

And it has pretty much stayed that way ever since, though the percentage of the population describing themselves as runners has somewhat stabilised over the ensuing decades. However, as is often the case in life, just when things seem to have settled down, an alternative will appear from left field.

The latest innovation in the sport of distance running (besides positive advances like Park Runs) has been the concept of the journey run. A journey run is a multi-day running odyssey, usually from one significant place to another. For example, one might run across a county, a state, a country, a continent, or even around the world. Or maybe just between two cities. The important thing is that the run is a journey from somewhere to somewhere else.

The reality is, journey running is quite rare compared to traditional running. But it is becoming more popular. The cycling version is actually very popular, even to the extent that one can participate in journey cycling via organised tours. Multi-day walking tours are also gaining in popularity. For example, week long walks across Britain or even longer walks along the extent of the Pyrenees appear to be attracting a lot of interest.

While the running version doesn’t see the same number of protagonists, it is on the increase. Those participating are usually on their own, not as part of an organised race or event. Their motivation is simple – to experience the countryside from the ground up, seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching the real world, and all as part of an activity they love doing anyway – running.

City to city journey runs taking two or three weeks, such as Melbourne to Sydney or San Francisco to Los Angeles are not uncommon. Longer challenges are increasing in frequency too, such as Italy from north to south, or the even more extreme length of South America.

The ‘granddaddy’ of all journey runs, however, is the world run. Running around the world is now an established sport in itself, with its own governing body, the World Runners Association (WRA). The WRA monitors the efforts of those attempting to run around the world according to its official rules and guidelines. These include starting and finishing at the same place, crossing at least four continents contiguously from one major ocean to another, running a total of at least 26,232 km (16,300 miles), and passing through antipodal points (points opposite each other on the Earth’s surface).

Until 2005, no runner had completed a fully transparent and documented run around the world according to the criteria of the WRA. At the time of writing, however, that number has swelled from zero to seven, with other world runs in process. Clearly, extreme journey running is gaining in both acceptance and popularity.

Whether it’s something as monumental as running around the world, or a more achievable city to city challenge, increasing numbers of journey runners are taking to the roads of the world to participate in their sport as part of a more comprehensive life experience. If you’ve ever considered such an odyssey, try it – there are few things as enjoyable as being on the road each day as you make your way inexorably toward your destination.