It was actually a treat to be on a flight with so many blonde / blue eyed people, not that I could speak this intriguing Dutch language. The one hour transfer from Amsterdam to the National Sports Centre Papendal was spent chatting trail running with Marc from Mud Sweat Trails. His enthusiasm exploding for trail running. He was questioned 2 years ago when he began his website “Trail running in Holland?” “Yes!” He said and it is obvious that he is proving them right. Trail running has begun in Holland.
We set off at 9pm from the hotel – where inspiration and motivation for action was everywhere with the wheel chair basketball players, golfers, track and field athletes training and recovering in the welcoming atmosphere of the forest surrounded hotel – a small group of the trail enthusiasts including another MST heartbeat Jeroen. Through forest trails we went, searching in the dusk for wild pigs, deer and exciting night time animals. The darkness came, the trail chatter continued and so did the fatigue of my legs that don’t run on the flat all that much but I was keen to see more of their sand dune like trails and undulating trails zigzagging through the small villages. At midnight it was still warm with just a fresh breeze. I had stopped chatting – must be time to go home to put on my new tulip slippers, refresh and climb into bed ready for another adventure tomorrow.
Nijmegen – one of the oldest cities in Holland proved to be perfect to explore, discover and enjoy by running with a small group of running friends. The cobbled streets showed their age, the stunning, old, almost gothic building stood proud with golden markings and statues. Parks were filled with half naked men playing football, there was romanic picnic outings, and fisherman on the flooded river banks, cyclists of all shapes, missions and sizes criss-crossing the streets in organised chaos. The chocolate cafes lured us – well me – in for some quick energy.
Yes, we were running in the city, but we still found freedom, fun and spirit of adventure, jumping down stairs, sliding on rails, scrambling up park banks and weaving through the tiny streets. All you need to do is look with an open eye for new space and ‘landscape’ and you will find something to play with, something to full fill your running spirit. It will be exciting to see what Nijmegen and other Dutch cities can come up with for some City Trail events. I believe it can be an exciting and rewarding adventure when the mountains are just a bit too far out of reach.
It was amazing to see this sense of spirit shared by a small and proactive community. Bever Company putting time, ambassadors, energy and marketing into promoting trail running as a sport for Holland. Support from the mountaineer community and the growing fast trail running community moved by the MST passion. The Bever Trail Running Day was a wonderful and full set up. Trail running clinics on use of a Suunto gps watch, running poles, an opportunity to try a variation of trail specific shoes from different brands, uphill/downhill techniques, learning the mountain weather and chatting with me about my experience and inspiration for the trails. The sun shone, there were smiles and that incredible bond that running gives to people meeting for the first time.
This country is ready to take on trails. Trails of all kind. It just takes you to join in, see for yourself the challenge and enjoyment that you can get from the city and forest trails hiding in nearby communities. Good luck, Happy Trails and thank you for showing me your passion for our trail freedom and spirit.