New on Sidetracked:

Field Journal

The Hug Run // Part Six

From The Field
The Hug Run // Part Six

Morgan Cardiff is documenting the journey of Dave Chamberlain, part-way through the ‘Hug Run’ – a seven-year, 64,000km run taking him all over the world. In this sixth Sidetracked report, Dave looks back at the first 10 months on the road. Read Part Five here.

Words: Dave Chamberlain // Photography: Morgan Cardiff & Jay Gunning

It’s been over 10 months since the project began, and while there was much speculation about how things might turn out, sometimes life can still surprise. And it’s all about horses.

Since starting with these projects, one of the greatest moments was having two horses run beside me in Argentina. I don’t know why it affected me so much. Perhaps it has something to do with my inelegant gait compared to their absolutely stunning glide, but when they joined me, for a moment I felt less like a one-legged kangaroo and more like a war pony racing across the Mongolian Plateau.

I can’t think why I thought about Mongolian hordes except for the possibility that Tamerlane sounds vaguely like Chamberlain. But horses running beside me has been a constant source of joy. Horses see me and they immediately join in, even if only as far as their paddock will allow, except on two occasions:

1) Swedish horses saw me, judged my threat level, and then continued to calmly graze.
2) American horses saw me, and then fled in a highly agitated state.

I’m not sure how much human psychology is transferable to horses, but their behaviour has had an effect on me. I no longer have running buddies joining me for runs. I no longer have anyone or anything to share in my journey.

The Hug Run // Part Six The Hug Run // Part Six The Hug Run // Part Six
Images: Morgan Cardiff & Jay Gunning

This has been the biggest surprise of the journey so far. I’ve known for a long time that, while I’m happy to be away from friends and family, I’m no hermit. What I didn’t know, until now, is that I’m a bit like that tree that falls over in the forest when nobody is around to hear it.

I don’t want the recognition. I’m as awkward at selling the project as I’ve ever been. What I miss, though, is having a witness to experience the journey with me. Somebody I can look at in 10 years’ time and know that we are thinking the same thought as a memory is triggered.

It’s been an interesting realisation about myself. It doesn’t threaten the trip in any way. I still don’t feel lonely. I just sometimes wonder if I run all this way and nobody is around to witness it, will it really have happened, or will it be reduced to a hotchpotch collection of memories, distorted over time?

I have reached the first turnaround point of the American portion, with another 20 months to go. Hopefully by the end some horses will have joined me for a trot.

Dave is currently retracing Forrest Gump’s fictional run across the USA, extending his global run by another 24,000km (and 2.5 years). If you’re able to join him for a week, a day, or even an hour then please get in touch and we’ll help connect you up with him. Or follow and support Dave on Instagram @thehugrun.

Read Dave’s article, ‘West To The Sea’ about his previous running expedition across Canada. Also, ‘The Penguin Runner’, a story about Dave’s journey across southern Africa and filmed by Morgan Cardiff was featured in Sidetracked Volume Two.

The planned routes can be viewed here, and for more information about Dave’s Vidamago Foundation visit Words by Dave Chamberlin and Morgan Cardiff. Instagram: @rhys_morgan & thehugrun.