On running and friendship in Thailand

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At first glance it didn’t seem like the best of ideas.

At second glance it seemed even worse.

  • Wake up at 4.30am.
  • Ride a scooter (for the first time in a year, naturally) 30km out of town.  On the highway.  In the dark.
  • Once the sun rises and things start to really heat up, run 10km on country roads and tracks.
  • Now that the traffic has got nice and heavy, ride back to Chiang Mai again.  Try not to die.

And yet despite all of that, last Sunday turned out to be one of those wonderful days that totally affirmed my decision to do what I’m doing right now.  More than once did I look around, grin from ear to ear and say to myself:

“You know what?  I f*cking love my life.”

I wasn’t loving it quite so much when the alarm went off, mind you.  Stumbling around bleary-eyed trying to find my running gear, the temptation to hit the lights and go back to sleep was extremely high.

The cool morning air and fumes belching from half a dozen scooters woke me up as soon as I went downstairs, however.  Strange how that works.

The ride out to the interestingly-named Log of Paradise was really fun, in a cold-wind-blowing-straight-through-your-clothes kind of way.  Avoiding potholes, cyclists, pedestrians and random animals in the dark added an extra degree of difficulty just in case anybody was tempted to start dozing off, and the reward of seeing the sun rising over the mountains as we neared our destination made it all worthwhile.  I was so pleased that I hadn’t taken the bus out … and not just because it apparently never actually bothered to show up.

The race route itself was gorgeous.  With the mist steaming off the paddy fields we threaded our way through tiny village markets and open countryside, small children waving and giggling at these crazy runners the whole way.  My fears of the heat and humidity were unfounded – it is cool enough in the early morning here at this time of year that I avoided an outright collapse before the finish line.  Handy.

Rice paddies near Chiang Mai

After chilling out for a couple of hours guzzling boiled eggs and bananas and winning raffle prizes – well, some of us… – we ducked and weaved our way back to Chiang Mai for a leisurely brunch at Bake and Bite.  With coffee.  Real coffee.  Awesome coffee.  Melbourne-style coffee (swoon).

Oh, and great food too.

But have I mentioned the coffee?

One last madcap ride along the moat and back home and the day was done.  It felt like we’d been out adventuring for a week and yet we’d barely hit midday.  The sign of a great experience, I reckon.  Or the sign of a stupidly early start.  One or the other.

As much fun as the run was though … or the scenery … or the scooter adventures, none of those were the reason I was as happy as I was all day.

Like nearly every other amazing travel experience I have had, it was all about the people.

Swapping stories and sharing the moments.  Looking out for each other.  Being in the now and appreciating each other’s company.  Making dumb jokes and laughing at everyone else’s.

It was just one of those days.  And I totally loved it.

Living here in Chiang Mai for several months definitely helps – it was the kind of experience you just don’t get when you breeze through a place for a few days.  I’ve been moving more and more slowly during my wanderings in recent years, and days like that were exactly the reason why.

Here’s to running.

And here’s to amazing friends.

Long may they both continue.

14 Responses to “On running and friendship in Thailand

  • I used to run Dave… I ran over 1000 days straight in high school (and now I only run when I really really want to).

    That said, I might have ran this day, because I agree.

    It is all about the people.

    Rock on!

    • I think you would have … it was just one of those days. Even the people who had only signed up for the 5km walk were saying that they wanted to join in the 10km run that morning! 🙂

  • i’ve got goosebumps. I love it when people are just loving the life they are living. So inspirational.
    Sounds like a perfect day and exactly why your dreams are worth taking risks and working hard for.
    Awesome Dave. Makes me want to get up at 4:30 and go for a run.
    Hang on I do get up at that time to feed Savannah!

    • Thanks Caz! I reckon there’s nothing more powerful than being around people who are passionately in love with their life … that’s why I try to surround myself with them (and be one of them myself, of course!)

  • What a gorgeous post!!! Very inspiring!

  • Yes! Awesome first pic. I’m pretty sure I would have loved this run. I’m itching to find another race and I haven’t done one in Thailand… hmm 😉 I can feel the pure joy coming from this post. So happy for you Dave!

  • That top photo is really cool – was that taken during this event?

    And in my opinion 4:30 am is waaaaaay too dang early to run, but I guess at least it prevent you from getting heat stroke. 🙂

    • Thanks! Yup it sure was – there were a couple of photographers on the course (including my friend Dustin) so there were some awesome photo ops. 🙂

      It was ridiculously early … crazy!!

  • Shawna Meyer
    12 years ago

    It was a great day, and you captured it very well by painting a picture with your words! Thanks for running with me…well, actually thanks for running ahead of me. I was eating your dust, but as you said “it was all about the people” and that’s why I had a blast! What a great day!

  • Chais Meyer
    12 years ago

    Great read and I also really enjoyed the run! Here’s to our race in a months time!

  • Yep, I agree. When you start to do things that people do when they live in a place as opposed to just traveling through, you get better experiences.

  • I would have loved to have done this. I’m really into running and try to keep it up when I travel but sometimes it’s not that easy. Organised runs are great though, because you don’t have to worry about the route. I hear you can run the Inca Trail as a marathon. Something to work towards, perhaps?!

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