"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Friday, April 12, 2019

Art Installation in Place at Coburg 2019

Over the past 10 years, I have been an ultra runner. That is, I run ultramarathon distances. Sometimes in races, sometimes in training. Sometimes apparently just for the joy of travelling long distances on foot.

I've explored a range of challenges and adventures. Or, I could say, I have explored my love of ultra running through different mediums. Terrain (sand, road, track, mountain, snow), distance, time, country, culture.... I've run in multi-day and team formats. I've run for national records. I've run for my CAN-AUS countries. I've run for FKTs.

A very special 6.5hr "run" of just 13k return to summit Mt Sneffels, Colorado, 4315m in 2015.  Highest reached by foot.

This exploration has been both a honing of and a continual expression of what I have come to realise is not merely a "sport" for me. It's an art and a craft. Over the years, I've dug deep into research papers, attended training camps, experimented, and listened to the experiences and advice of masters. Every bit of that has helped me learn and refine.

Art, as "a skill acquired through practice," seems almost synonymous with "craft" (as in "kraft" - force, strength). We use our art and craft to create something - that which may be a vocation, in the traditional sense. The creations that came from those kind of forces were, I think, primarily utilitarian at some point in the past. Clothing, spears, housing, all created by "artisans."

Moe 6hr, 2010. Hot day, pushing for 70k. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;)
Nowadays, we tend to think only of art as paintings, sculptures... things with no utilitarian value. By that, I mean, they are not essential to a human being's survival. Art is created to be appreciated for its beauty or its emotional power alone. But emotional power can support social causes, healing, or political change. Or it can simply be entertainment.

Avocado sandwich jumpy shot. It's art, man.

For me, ultra running has no "real" utility. I do not need to travel so far, so fast, at once, for my survival. I have no political or social justice cause I run for. I am not healing a wound or managing an addiction. And I do not do this for entertainment. I am thus left with the fact that ultra running for me is my art and craft. And I do know that I have felt the emotional power of watching other ultra runners. The same goose bumps and watery eyes I've gotten when hearing a particular piece of music. Interesting, that is.

Coast 2 Kosci, 2013, finish
Yet, I also have a feeling that the art I create is not outside of me. When my race ends, there might be a finisher's medal or a t-shirt. There will be a time and a distance stamped to that experience. But those are not the art.

So, do I create the art or does the art create me?

Perhaps I am creating my masterpiece. And it is me.

Art installation live in place on the Harold Stevens Athletic Track, Coburg, Victoria, April 13-14 2019!

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