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Field Journal

The Hug Run

From The Field
The Hug Run

Dave Chamberlain is about to embark on the ‘Hug Run’, a seven-year, 64,000km run that will take him to six continents. Morgan Cardiff is currently with Dave and will be filming the first leg covering Norway Sweden and Iceland. Beyond they are searching for collaborative documenting partners around the world. Sidetracked will be following and reporting on every step of the journey.

Words & photography by Morgan Cardiff

It’s hard to be in a hurry when the van you bought unseen the week earlier doesn’t go much over 90kph. If anyone has done the drive from the north of Germany to the most northern point of Europe you will understand that, at this rate, the 2,800km seems endless.

I was racing the clock to meet Dave Chamberlain who was flying in from South Africa to Honningsvåg, Norway, to begin what would be a seven-year, 64,000km running project. It will take him to every continent except Antarctica. I had given myself three days to get there. Through a severe late spring snowstorm south of Stockholm, and as the forest slowly started to diminish the further north I drove, the abundance of snow still on the ground gave the clear indication that while spring was in full force down south, winter still had some legs up here in these parts.

The Hug Run The Hug Run The Hug Run
Photography by Morgan Cardiff

To kill time I turned to podcast after podcast, eventually settling on Dirt Bag Diaries and stories of rafting expeditions on the Colorado River, a guy walking across the US with a goat, and a story about running head strong into something you were totally unprepared for.

It got me thinking, what was going through Dave’s head as he sat in that window seat peering out over the snowcapped fjords of the Norwegian coastline? How do you plan for something that will occupy your time for seven years give or take? Do you think in countries? Weeks or days? Towns or just to the next distance marker? Or do you totally switch off, only reacting to the roar of the trucks sidestepping you as they rush by? I have asked Dave this on previous projects, but dissimilar to this one, they were all relatively short. His first, a 5,000 km run down RN40 in Argentina, the second, 2,700km through Namibia and South Africa, and his last 8,100 km across Canada. His response, which I can only assume still stands is that you don’t really, beyond the next supermarket or in the case of Namibia, water sources; humans have three basic needs, food, water and shelter and as long as you have those, life goes on.

He has previously mentioned that his mind detaches from his legs, he focuses not so much on the visuals of where he is, but on the sounds and smells of a place. He once explained to me that he knew what Canada smelled like, how as he crossed the Saskatchewan grasslands dominated by agricultural production what he noticed was the lack of birds and accompanying noise. Not surprising given his family’s involvement in the South African birding community. I assume that if you over think what you are doing it becomes overwhelming. Unlike my hectic drive north, you can’t be in a hurry, you have to just take what each day brings, and react to that.

The Hug Run
Photograph by Morgan Cardiff

I have witnessed and written about previously his abilities to cover significant distances and push through incredibly tough conditions, so I’m not going to go into that again. This project, titled ‘The Hug Run’ by Dave, is about bringing people together, it’s not about making him seem superhuman, or putting anyone above anyone else. I guess much like the previous projects, he just wants people to live and see everyone else as fellow human beings, and thus treat them as such.

As I arrive at Honningsvåg airport just a few hours late, jittering from being stationary for far too many hours and to much coffee, Dave is sitting on a bench outside. The airport closed a few hours earlier. Straight out of a South African autumn he had arrived in the most northern point of Europe, well inside the Arctic Circle wearing thongs, a t-shirt a pair of shorts, and in the meantime his bags remained on the tarmac in Oslo.

To be continued…

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 and photography by Morgan Cardiff. Instagram: @rhys_morgan & run_our_world.