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In the above picture I am taking a moment from a trail run with my brother to enjoy the view on Meginticook Mountain, Maine USA.

The birds haven’t even woken yet, save for a determined Drongo and an ambitious sparrow. Its dark and the cocoon I dwell in under the duvet envelopes me in the warmth of my own small inner world. I’m slowly emerging from a complex dreamscape. I hear crickets, but not the cacophony of insect violinists outside my window, but rather the ‘cricket’ option on my phone’s alarm settings. It is time to race. It’s the middle of a South African winter, and so I have tucked my running tights, my top and my heart rate monitor in with me before going to bed, like a child with a teddy bear. The clothes are warm and I change under the covers, to avoid an unnecessary encounter with the cold air that lurks beyond my cocoon.  My GPS running watch is applied to my wrist, its cold and makes the hairs on my arm lift up in protest. Its time: I have to leave the cocoon soon if I am going to make the starting line on time.

This usually sums up my Saturday and even Sunday morning, for some its not your idea of a Good Holiday, but save for the difficult transition from bed to frost covered starting line, being out on the trail is for me the best holiday I can imagine. Running is perhaps the closest I will come to flying. It is not that I haven’t tried other ways to fly. As kids, my brother and I constructed a variety of flying ‘machines’ made from gum tree poles and large gold wall paper, my mum had salvaged from a late 70s matric dance decorating endeavor. Although we never flew, our hearts did, and running down the bank and off the retaining wall were exhilarating and etched into childhood story. Today, Letting gravity pull me down a mountain, as my feet momentarily catch me from falling, feels the same. I feel as if I am about to lift off, and there are times where I am airborne, as I attempt to avoid a log, a boulder, a stream.

Below: Half way up the mountain in the Drakensberg escarpment, a trail running weekend with by best buddy Cameron.

image 4The freedom and joy I draw from running trails, marathons and triathlon does not seem to be limited to my own experience, as despite the frigid conditions, a cold winter drizzle, or a even a heavenly downpour; there is always a large gathering of fidgety and excited fellow racers at the starting line: stretching, giggling and chattering. This is not just my idea of fun, it seems to be shared by many. So much so that people choose to go on `Race-cations’. Indeed, I have close friends who periodically go on racing holidays, in which everyone in the family has an event suited to their interest and ability on their holiday itinerary. This is becoming a greater trend, as marathons and triathlons are growing globally and can be found in a rich variety of exotic destinations.

Below: Half way up the mountain in the Drakensberg escarpment, a trail running weekend with by best buddy Cameron.

image 2Yet the holiday does not only exist in a planned trip to somewhere curious and littered with curios. Instead I find that I take up to two holidays a day, in my daily run, cycle or swim. These might last for 40 minutes or two hours, regardless of how much time I have: it is in those moments between each footstep, each peddle turn and each stroke that I find freedom, that I relax, that I am embodied and in the moment. Once again I am that little kid running down the hill with torn golden wall-paper and gum-tree leaves floating down along my wake. I am flying.

A simple jog, cycle or swim, is the ultimate Good Holiday, as it liberates us from the world of bills, Facebook, traffic, laundry, and small talk. It is our time to play, and to be, just be.  Through a stroke of luck, or divine intervention this activity is seen to be socially acceptable, we are allowed to take time from our lives and be active. Yet what I have found is that while my body is active, my mind and my heart has time to rest, to recuperate. Running is when my mind and my heart get a chance to lie on the beach and drink Pina-coladas and day-dream.

In the below picture I am arriving near the finish line of a 15km Trail run in Shongweni Valley Nature Reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. I managed a podium finish, with a third place.

Image 1So if you feel you are long overdue for a holiday, but only have 40 minutes to spare, I suggest you put on some running shoes, mount your bike, or slip into a swimsuit and get out there and move, its will be the cheapest and most rewarding holiday you will have this week!

Words: Dylan McGarry

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Adventure Love

We love to travel and everything that goes with it. From wine to a health retreat and all the marvelous things this world has to offer in between.

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