Running
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Unlocking Ideas

A man is running in the park.

Have you ever had an idea while you were run­ning? If so, you’re not alone. Like tak­ing a show­er or going for a walk, run­ning is one of those activ­i­ties that stim­u­late cre­ativ­i­ty. «The hours we spend on our feet have a way of unlock­ing ideas that would oth­er­wise be out of reach,» so it says in a text about the «Track­smith Fel­low­ship». The inde­pen­dent run­ning brand from New Eng­land has designed this pro­gram to sup­port run­ners with cre­ative ambi­tions. But why?

The answer is as strik­ing as it’s obvi­ous: «Our sport is rich with sto­ries wait­ing to be told—stories that have the pow­er to both inspire the next gen­er­a­tion and grow the sport. And yet, despite this wealth of sto­ries and ideas, it’s hard for new voic­es and new cre­ators to break out.» There­fore, Track­smith has fund­ed six projects rang­ing from pod­casts to sculp­ture, film, pho­tog­ra­phy, music and urban design in 2021, and this year they sup­port a new cohort of Fel­lows and their five projects. 

«Our sport is rich with sto­ries wait­ing to be told—stories that have the pow­er to both inspire the next gen­er­a­tion and grow the sport. And yet, despite this wealth of sto­ries and ideas, it’s hard for new voic­es and new cre­ators to break out.»

It’s a wide range. There is Paige Beth­mann and her fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary about Kutoven «Ku» Stevens, «an extra­or­di­nary young run­ner, who orga­nizes a two-day jour­ney to trav­el the 50-mile escape route of his great-grand­fa­ther, Frank Quinn, who fled from the Stew­art Indi­an School when he was eight years old.» Or Charles Moore, who encour­ages black peo­ple to run and whose mem­oir «will chron­i­cle his expe­ri­ences embrac­ing dis­tance run­ning at age forty and all that he’s learned about him­self and run­ning cul­ture.» There is Mylo Choy-Sut­ton, who has writ­ten and drawn a graph­ic mem­oir «explor­ing the role of run­ning as a teacher, illus­trat­ed through humor­ous, reflec­tive anec­dotes. At a time when the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tives of trans­gen­der expe­ri­ences focus on pain, Choy-Sut­ton’s mem­oir will explore the joy and wis­dom that can be found in the inti­mate rela­tion­ship between a per­son and their body through running.» 

You can learn about «Start­ing Line 1928», a pod­cast and oral his­to­ry project «doc­u­ment­ing the lived expe­ri­ences of female dis­tance run­ning pio­neers. A team of his­to­ri­ans from around the coun­try will record pod­cast inter­views with the trail­blaz­ers of wom­en’s run­ning, pre­serv­ing their lega­cies and untold sto­ries, and pro­duc­ing com­ple­men­tary blog and social media con­tent to gen­er­ate inter­est and aware­ness.» And last but not least the fel­low­ship sup­ports Yu Wu, who has writ­ten a love let­ter to mod­ern cities. «The City Run­ner project doc­u­ments Yu Wu’s jour­ney of explor­ing dif­fer­ent U.S. cities through run­ning, offer­ing an inti­mate look at these cities in pho­tos, words, and detailed route maps. Yu Wu is shar­ing his pho­to­graph­ic run­ning log and maps on his Insta­gram @yutherunner and his city guides at thecityrunner.com.

Those are good exam­ples for the pur­pose of Track­smith’s fel­low­ship: to ele­vate the sport, dri­ve con­ver­sa­tion and empow­er new per­spec­tives. I would like to see a lot more run­ning com­pa­nies to accept their respon­si­bil­i­ty with­in soci­ety and to see run­ning as what it real­ly is: not a soli­tary hob­by, but intrin­si­cal­ly linked to cul­ture and peo­ple’s dai­ly life.

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