In April Team GECA will be getting out of the office and taking part in Run for Wild Places – a new trail running challenge with a mission to protect wild places!
We recently spoke to the Founder of Run for Wild Places, Simon Harris, about this new sustainability challenge.
Q. What inspired you to start Run for Wild Places?
Last year, after watching Patagonia’s ‘takayna’ film about the deforestation of the Tarkine, I was moved to voluntarily create an ultra running event called ‘takayna Ultra’ for the Bob Brown Foundation. After such an epic event (the second one is only weeks away), I realised I wanted to create something bigger, which would hopefully have even more impact. Run for Wild Places was born!
During the takayna Ultra event, I witnessed the power and motivation that outdoor sportspeople can have when they unite to protect the environment. It makes sense as we should protect the very places where we spend our leisure time.
I also really believe that many of us feel we have lost the agency and power to change what is happening to the climate. In a way, this was and is my way of getting back some that agency I lost and positively contributing to a global problem that probably needs solving on a community level.
What I feel I have learned is that we all have unique great strengths or talents that we could use to protect wild places. I often ask people, “what is the biggest impact for change you can make?” Maybe you’re a teacher that can educate kids on the impacts related to the way we live or a videographer that can create epic videos about climate change. I realised that my particular talent was for creating events and experiences that connect people with campaigns that are trying to protect our wild places.
Q. Why should people don their running shoes and participate?
With over 5 million hectares of land in Australia devastated by bushfires (so far) this summer, it’s even more important that we do what we can to protect our remaining forests and wild places – the lifeblood of the planet. These places not only give a sanctuary and home to thousands of species but, they give us oxygen and life.
Runners are natural allies of the environment. And, as the largest outdoor recreational group across the world, we must act now for the sake of our kids, wildlife and our planet. I really believe that the more people get out there into nature, the more they will take notice and protect her. Taking part in the challenge whether you walk or run during the month it doesn’t matter, what matters is you taking a stand and protecting wild places.
Q. Where are some of your favourite Wild Places?
This is a hard one.
You know, for me, Australia has the most spectacular wild places of anywhere I’ve ever been. My wild playground for almost 20 years was the blue mountains (I now live in the Adelaide Hills), with more trails than any other national park in Australia, it was a place where I loved to constantly explore, run, climb, camp, walk and go canyoning. I truly love the majesty of the mountains and have so many special memories of running with friends, and it was here that I started to appreciate the wild!
Last year I spent some time in the Bob Brown Foundation blockade camps in the Tarkine in North West Tasmania, and it blew me away. Inside the forests, they felt so alive and yet very fragile. If you haven’t been to the Tarkine, you must.
Q. Where do you see Run for Wild Places going in the future?
My hope is first to enable the charities and their retrospective campaigns to have the resources through a new support network to win. These campaigns are GIVE A DAM (Blue Mountains), Fight for the Bight (SA) and Origin fracking in NT campaigns – honestly, the guys working are so tiny and what they achieve is nothing sort of a miracle if you knew the kinds of resources they have to use.
For me, having been a Fundraiser for 20 years, I know how hard it is to raise funds and also try to win campaigns at the same time. I hope that together, we can raise enough money to enable these organisations to protect our wild places.
In terms of the event itself, I want to create a global event – ideally at least have the event in the UK, USA and Canada. As part of this global event, on ‘Earth Day’, I have this crazy idea I would love to have everyone across the world run for wild places at the same time regardless of where they are in the world! For me, the journey working to support local environmental organisations has just begun.