Tōtaranui, Aotearoa New Zealand
April 11, 2021


For most of the last decade, I've described myself as a runner - someone who runs.

It's been a big part of how I've explored the world. Running in the heat and chaotic traffic of Thailand. Running in the altitude and density of Colombia. Running in Rwanda, red soil and a thousand hills.

But in the first part of 2017, while taking a sip of coffee, I fell down a flight of stairs. Stopped suddenly, foot against railing. The middle bones of my left foot were broken, the tendons that connected my second and third toes ripped apart.

I went to a sports doctor here in New Zealand, and he said, Well, there's a surgery. But it's only about a 30% chance.

A year passed. Two. More travel, no running. Paris. Tokyo. Covid. Lockdown.

And now.

Here, out in the New Zealand wilderness. Walking uphill on trails, which is how I became an accidental runner in the first place.

I feel my feet under me. My legs, hungry.

Before I can think, I'm off.

And there it is - that feeling. My feet on the ground, pressing pushing lifting jumping.

Heart pumping. Beating. Pushing oxygenated blood to my muscles and back again. Lungs in, out. Head steady, horizon. Dodge. Weave. Duck, there's a branch. Run.


There's one particular stretch of trail - in Oregon, in the United States. It comes after a pretty boring and brutal gravel uphill. You finish the climb, level off, and there it is.

A thin line worn into a towering, dense forest. It undulates. Weaves. The forest floor squishes under you, spongy in that way that only old forests can be. It's a little downhill, and your legs - just let go.

Years ago, I ran that trail, full speed. Ducking branches. Jumping over logs. And never in my life before or since have I ever felt that human. That alive.

And now, here I am. Tōtaranui. Heading off into the headlands track - the park ranger telling me, Nobody really uses it. We just go up there when it's time to clean out wasps.

Feeling the ground. Feeling my feet.

Ready, finally, to run.

Have a happy-feet week, -Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw this week were these adorable and amazing images of tiny underwater organisms that only come out at night. :)

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