Why are creative people so stupid?

Why are creative people so stupid? (And uncreative?)

Paradigms are funny things. It’s not like they’re completely useless, but they’re one of the reasons plenty of things stay the same, when they could be much better being different.

The official definition of ‘paradigm’ is something like “a set of concepts or thought patterns” and we all have them. At times, they can be useful because they’re how we know how to deal with this or that. We reach into the memory banks and find a paradigm that lets us know how things work and what to do about them. 

But sometimes, we’re so set in our ways, we don’t think to change things up and make them better. To ask if there may just be a better, faster, easier, more fun, or more effective way of doing things.

So imagine my surprise when I watched this year’s Golden Globe Awards and thought to myself, “Self, fuck creative people can be stupid sometimes”.

I haven’t researched the origins of awards shows. Perhaps it goes back to caveman days when they all sat around the campfire and gave someone a dinosaur leg* for best rock throw of the day or something. Who knows. But for as long as I can remember, awards shows have been basically the same.

The paradigm is this: Get a bunch of people together. Pat each other on the back for doing a good job. Possibly cry a bit. And see who can make the most boring speech of all time thanking people 99% of us have never heard of.

The only real changes I’ve seen in the last however many years is the technology has gotten better and awards shows are now broadcast to even more people who can be bored shitless by those stupid speeches. Why is it even like that? Because it’s always been like that, that’s why.

And it’s gob-smacking really, isn’t it? With the Golden Globes in particular, there’s some of the most creative film and tv people on the planet, creating some of the most dead boring tv ever broadcast. Incomprehensible. And boring as bat shit.

OK, it wasn’t all boring. The host Rick Gervais was awesome as usual. So that’s a total of about 15 or 20 minutes out of a few hours. And the people who said ‘fuck’ kind of made it interesting. And love her or hate her, Amy Schumer really spiced things up by going one further and dropping the c-bomb while she was presenting.

Personally, I think it’s time for ‘The Thankyou Booth’.

Awards shows were created before the internet, right? Everyone thought if they were going to say something, they had to do it right there and then. There’s people um-ing and ah-ing their way through things. There’s people sobbing with gratitude. There’s people reading impossibly long lists of names off the back of postage stamps. There’s people using the opportunity to thank god, their parents, indigenous people, their cat and whoever else they can think of. The list goes on. And on. And on.

And then there’s the excruciating wind-up music. Surely it’s not just me that gets embarrassed for everyone involved when that happens? Here’s someone who’s worked their entire life to do something that gets recognized creatively, they finally get up on stage to give their speech, and before they’ve gathered their composure some asshole producer with a deadline to keep fades up the background music while they’re still speaking letting them know it’s time to finish off already. Great job, well done, now fuck off. Excruciating.

So come on people, this is the 21st century. We have a thing called the internet now. Let’s rethink things. Let’s create a new paradigm. Which is where ‘The Thankyou Booth’ comes in.

I’m sure there are many solutions, but this is mine:

I think it’s terrific to be grateful and to thank everyone from your goldfish to the person who gave you your lip implants or last colonic. But do you have to do it on live tv when 99.9% of people watching have no idea who the fuck you’re talking about?

How about this: how about you use your 30 or so seconds to just say something interesting or entertaining or profound or useful. Something for the broader audience. You know, the ones who make up 99.9% of your audience. Say “Thanks everyone and…<insert pompous/witty/insightful statement here>” then bugger off back stage to The Thankyou Booth, possibly one of many, where you can stand there all night, with no background music interrupting you, and give the speech of your life.
Thank everyone. Take your time. Sing a song if you like. And the people who are interested can watch it online. It could be live streamed, technology means we can do that these days. Go figure. Or we can watch it on demand later. Easy. No time limits. No embarrassing musical wind ups. No forgetting anyone. Cry as much as you like. Swear as much you like. And the people who are interested will watch it. Simple, right?

Dare to disrupt.

The truth is, I don’t really care about the Golden Globes. I imagine they’ll go on for many years without my amazing suggestions. But I just wanted to touch on the fact that almost nothing is a given. We need air, water and food. There’s gravity. (For now.) And we die. (For now.) Almost everything else is variable. Often governed by our own beliefs, our own paradigms, about how things should be and what is and isn’t possible.

Just because something’s always been a certain way, doesn’t mean it always should be. Or will be. The world needs more people who can help change things. Who invent electric cars. Who find ways to clean the oceans. Stop deforestation. Protect animals. Cure diseases. Eradicate poverty. Or just be nice to people.

We need more change. Question everything. Does it really have to be this way? The answer is almost always ‘no’. What will you dare to disrupt?

Stay awesome.

Chief Swashbuckler




* Yes, I know cave men and dinosaurs were apparently not around at the same time. But come on, us creative people never let the truth get in the way of a good story. So shut. Up.



“The map is not the territory”

One of the hot topics right now out in Digital Land is the role of social media, and in particular, how it doesn’t represent real life. Well, of course it’s not real life, it’s social media. One happens out in the real world, in real time, with all its up and downs. And one is a place where people go to share certain things. Maybe the good stuff. Maybe the bad stuff. Maybe a combination of both.

On our Swashbucklers Club social media, for example, we tend to share fun, exciting, adventurous and inspirational things. Because that’s what we’re about. Do we live that life 100% of the time? Of course not? At times, a lot of effort, sacrifice and heartache goes into doing what we do. Planning, plotting, scheming, sleepless nights… all sorts of things. But we don’t share that stuff cause we just figure you guys are more interested in the cool and interesting stuff. Not the mundane goings on that make all the other stuff possible. We’re pretty sure no one wants to read stories about me putting my garbage cans out on Monday morning or what I had for dinner.

To be clear, we don’t do this to make it look like things are like that all the time for us, just because that’s the stuff we think you guys want to see. Our mission is to add a little more awesome to your day, so that’s what we try and do.

This whole issue also reminds me of the famous saying “the map is not the terrain”. It was something the scholar Korzybski said and really it’s mean to remind us that we all have stories about the things that happen. That we all have our perception of what happened and what it means, and no matter how accurate it may be, it’s still a ‘map’. Or as I prefer to call it, a ‘story’. The problem is, at times we tend to take our own stories as gospel. As 100% accurate when they almost always involved filling in some of the gaps with assumptions. Assumptions about people’s intentions and motivations. Assumptions about all kinds of things. So it really is worth remembering, your story is just that, a story. And your map is not the territory. And neither is anyone else’s – especially on social media.

So whether it’s something that’s happened in the real world, or on social media, just remember, it’s not the territory. Just a map. Maybe a comprehensive one with all sorts of details about the ups and downs. Maybe just one with the highlights.

Having said all that, and with these issues in mind, for anyone who is interested in what goes on in the gaps between reality and social media, I’ll be writing a few real life stories and the lessons I’ve learned from them. Some of the non-highlights that give you a different perspective of things. Maybe no one will be interested, and that’s fine as well, but I’ll personally be writing some more personal stories to keep things real. So if there’s anything you’d like to know, feel free to let me know.

Stay awesome.

Chief Swashbuckler

Sputnik MTBing in Moab. Social Media Vs Real Life/

Sputnik MTBing in Moab. Social Media Vs Real Life




Want to say ‘hi’?

Want to say hi in 2016? As always, a lot of this is subject to change, but for now at least, here’s where we plan to be in 2016.



17th. Undies Run. Adelaide, South Australia.

(24th> New Zealand)


6th: Tarawera Ultra. Rotorua, New Zealand.



12th-14th. Tassie Trail Fest. Derby, Tasmania, Australia.

20th. Bay-City. Adelaide, South Australia.



3rd. Clare Half Marathon. Clare, South Australia.

24th. Cleland SA Trail Running Championships. Adelaide, South Australia.



1st. Greenbelt Half Marathon. Adelaide, South Australia.

11th-15th. Ultra Trail Australia. Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

22 May. Sturt Gorge Trail Race. South Australia.

29th. Barossa Marathon. Barossa Valley, South Australia. TBC



10th-13th. Melrose Fat Tyre Festival. Melrose, South Australia.

19th. Mt Misery Trail Race. South Australia. TBC

25th. Surf Coast Trail Marathon. Torquay/Surf Coast, Victoria, Australia.



24th. Hills to Henley (30km). Adelaide, South Australia. TBC



14th. Adelaide Marathon. Adelaide, South Australia. TBC

27th. Kangaroo Island Marathon. Kangaroo Island, South Australia.



18th. City-Bay. Adelaide, South Australia.

25th. Yurrebilla Ultra. Adelaide, South Australia. TBC



6th. Kuitpo Forest Trail Run. Kuitpo, South Australia.

TBC. Blue Lake Fun Run. Mt Gambier, South Australia.



It’s time to celebrate.

So Christmas got me thinking. And yeah, I said it, Christmas. None of that generic, politically correct ‘Happy Holidays’ nonsense, but Christmas. The day celebrated predominantly by Christians and commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.

To be fair, anyone who knows me knows damn well I don’t personally celebrate Christmas. Not because of some conflicting religious or cultural belief, it’s just not my thing and that’s another story entirely. But watching various companies and brands and people tip toeing through the politically correct minefield got me thinking: What the fuck is the big deal about celebrating everything?

Let’s not censor celebrations.

When I lived in Cambodia, my Khmer friends celebrated all sorts of things. Water Festival. Pchum Ben (Ancestor’s Day). International Fish Day. You name it. (I’m pretty sure they have more public holidays than just about any other country on the planet!*) And none of my friends were particularly worried about offending me by celebrating them. And nor should they have been. In fact, I was happy enough to have the public holidays for whatever they wanted to celebrate thanks very much. At times, I even joined in to a greater or lesser degree.

They weren’t my beliefs, but that’s fine. It’s a wide world and I was more than happy for them to celebrate pretty much anything and everything they wanted. And I quite enjoyed using the opportunity to learn a little about their culture and beliefs. In return, to the best of my knowledge, they had absolutely no problem with me celebrating anything I chose to either.

So why on Earth are we worried about whether or not we’re allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas’ anymore? Why is everyone from Starbucks to the local school or Child Care Centre now too scared to say, let alone celebrate it? Our American friends don’t dumb down Halloween in case it upsets witches. Or druids. Or Michael Myers. Or whoever the hell may take offence. They don’t dumb down Thanksgiving or Independence Day or Labor Day or a whole heap of other days, so I’m genuinely not sure why any of us, anywhere, should be worried about what we do and don’t say. Or celebrate.

Celebrate more. Not less.

In a world that can sometimes be quite dim and grey, surely we should be celebrating more, not less? We shouldn’t be telling people not to celebrate things, we should be joining in and celebrating everything. We’re not going to develop cultural understanding and tolerance by doing less, by shying away from our own beliefs, by self censoring our celebrations. On the contrary. Let’s everyone celebrate everything.

If you don’t want to join in, that’s fine. Don’t. I don’t celebrate Christmas, or Halloween or probably 99% of the world’s other significant days, but I’m more than happy for anyone else to do so.

My celebration is not an insult.

I’m also reminded of the time I attended Indonesian Independence Day celebrations at the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh. I went along to share that particular celebration with my Indo friends. It wasn’t supposed to be disrespectful to the Dutch who used to rule that country. And this is also important. Sometimes days get a bad rap based on differing perspectives. Australia Day has fallen foul of this in recent times as well, being dubbed ‘invasion day’. The reality is, there aren’t many countries on earth who weren’t once called something else, ruled by someone else, or part of some other region or country or kingdom. We shouldn’t forget that. But does that mean we should pretend people never came to Australia and settled the country? Come. On. It happened. White settlers came here. It’s part of what makes the country what it is today. And celebrating that, need not be a kick in the teeth to the original indigenous inhabitants. Hey, let’s celebrate their awesome culture also. There’s enough celebrating to go around.

Perhaps think of it in sporting terms: the winning team celebrates. Not to be mean spirited to the losing team, but because of their particular achievement. Sure there’s a ying to the yang, and I don’t mean to trivialize the beliefs or hardships of others. I can celebrate civilization and progress, and celebrate nature. Just as I can celebrate all kinds of other things that may, at times, seem slightly, or even completely, contradictory. Because to me the secret to a better world isn’t to contract and start celebrating less, but rather to be tolerant and inclusive and celebrate more.



* This Business Insider article lists India as having the most public holidays with 21, but depending on how many of these are ‘official’, I’m pretty sure Cambodia has got their 21 well and truly covered.



Capturing the Awesome.

For those of you interested in taking photos of your awesome adventures, Chief Swashbuckler Sputnik has put a few tips together on choosing a camera – especially if you’re thinking of buying an ‘ActionCam’ like a GoPro. Obviously technology is changing all the time, so makes and models will change, but many of these tips will serve you well for a while yet. In a world full of infinite opportunities, this basic checklist might help you narrow down the options and make a decision:

  • Do you really need your camera to be able to handle all weather conditions? If you do, this instantly narrows it down to traditional style waterproof cameras (like the Lumix FT5) and action cams like the Garmin Virb or GoPro. Even if you won’t be diving into the ocean or rolling around in the snow, a waterproof camera is also usually shockproof, rain-proof, sweat-proof and although not exactly indestructible, certainly way more durable that a regular camera. Super handy if you’re going to be out in the elements – whether that be rain, snow or even just dust or sand which can ruin a less durable camera pretty quickly.
  • What level of quality do you really need to shoot? If it’s just for basic personal use, don’t get hung up on, or pay for, things like 4K video when good quality HD will more than do the job. Same with shoot speed which allows you to slow the footage down for super slow-mo later. If this is something you might need then pay for it, otherwise, let it go. We’re guilty of buying things ‘just in case we need it’ but have a good think up front, and be realistic about where your pics or videos will end up and you may just find some of these expensive, high end options just aren’t that important. Or worth paying for.
  • How much control do you want when shooting? Depending on the model, actions cams give you a little control, like the ability to shoot wide or zoom mode, and a few other adjustments, but they’re not so user friendly in that department so it’s very much set, go, point, shoot and hope for the best. Which is why they’re called ‘Action Cams’, right? But if you’d prefer to be able to change things up on the go, and even zoom in and out while you film, you may find a more regular waterproof camera is for you. You won’t look as cool as all the popular kids with their Action Cams, but you’ll get the shot. (This is one of our favorite things about the FT.)
  • Accessories are a big deal and ActionCams are the king of the castle in this department. If you’re likely to need a helmet mount, chest strap, bike mount, steadicam style ‘gimble’ to smooth out your shots on the go, the universal mount that’s standard on ActionCams like the GoPro and Virb is the place to be. The official and aftermarket range of accessories for these cameras is ridiculous. Just be warned, you’ll want to factor all your extra bits and pieces into your budget as many of them don’t come cheap. We quite liked the amazing little Dome Port from KNEKT which allows you to shoot half underwater, half above, but at $349.99 it doesn’t come cheap. Same goes with even more basic options like interchangeable lenses. People rave about getting compact cameras with the ability to change lenses, but 99% of them never actually get around to doing it because it’s expensive and, let’s be honest, a bit of a pain in the ass. So yes, it’s awesome if you can get extra stuff for your camera, but again, be realistic about what you’re likely to cough up the bucks for.
  • Batteries aren’t sexy, but they are kind of useful, so you’re going to want to consider how long they last, how much extra batteries cost, and how easy they are to change when you’re out in the elements. This is another area where we have a personal preference for the Lumix FT, and while it may come at the expense of picture quality, we’d rather get the shot with a powered up battery, than miss it altogether. And remember, all those extra features like WiFi, GPS etc will drain your battery faster. So don’t buy a camera for those extra features if you end up turning them off anyway to save battery power in real life situations. (Yes, again, we’re guilty of that. GPS is rarely turned on in our cameras.)
  • Will you be shooting more stills or video? Most ActionCams definitely skew towards video cameras that shoot stills, whereas waterproof cameras are more like stills cameras that shoot video, and as such usually have more photo options. Again, something to keep in mind. We haven’t managed to get our hands on one yet, but Olympus has now released the TG-4 – the first ever waterproof compact that shoots high quality RAW images that allow you to do more high end photo processing afterwards. By the time you read this no doubt other companies will breathing down their necks, but for now, it’s another feature to keep in mind. (And before you get too sucked in by cameras that say they can shoot stills while they’re shooting video, be sure to check the specs on those as usually the photos a camera takes in photo mode, are better quality than the ones it shoots at the same time you’re filming.)
  • Everyone gets all excited about picture quality, but let’s not forget its not quite as popular little brother, audio quality, either. If you’re going to be shooting video, you may want to think about what the audio quality is like on your camera of choice. Many a great shot has been ruined, or even rendered effectively useless by audio so noisy, it’s painful and almost impossible to watch. These days the on board audio of many cameras has gotten a lot better but for a few dollars more you can get an attachment that allows you to attach external microphones to many cameras including the GoPro. just remember you usually have to take your camera out of its waterproof housing to use an external mic! Some of them work with wireless external mics only so retains it’s waterproof rating.
  • Another feature that gets overlooked quite a bit is being able to see what you’re shooting. Models change from time to time obviously, but right now the GoPro Hero4Silver and Hero+ LCD have screens, but it’s a no go on other GoPro models and the Virb. If you’re primarily going to be using the thing stuck on a helmet, you may think a screen is largely irrelevant as you won’t be looking through it while shooting away, but if you want to check to see if you got the shot later, screens can be super handy. Various external screens are available though, and remember playing back will also reduce precious battery life so you might want to keep that to a minimum in any case.


  • If you’re already taking your smart phone with you, you may be better off just buying a really good waterproof case like the ones from Lifeproof. The latest Samsung and Apple smart phones shoot 4K video and awesome quality pics. So if you need to travel light, this may be an option worth considering. Just keep in mind, not all lens qualities are the same. There’s a very good reason high quality lenses can cost $100s or even $1000s of dollars. The size of the lens and the quality of the glass the light passes through can have a massive affect on the end result. A pin-hole sized camera lens with a micro-sensor simply can’t capture the same quality as a a full size DSLR – although the gap is definitely closing.
  • Be realistic about what you’ll be using your camera for. It’s easy to get caught up on sensor size, megapixels and various other things, and in days gone by where the focus was on printing things out, it was super important to know if you could print an A4 or an A3 image etc. These days, it’s more about sharing images digitally, and for most people, megapixels stopped being an issue years ago. Just about any camera will shoot a picture that looks just fine on social media. If you’re planning on doing something semi-pro with your images, that’s a whole different topic for another day. For you, buying a camera to capture your adventures may mean being realistic about where the final pictures end up and not getting sucked into specifications that are meaningless at a practical level. Although it is worth being clear on whether or not there’s a specific feature you will be needing – like being able to also shoot stills while you’re filming, super slow motion, self timer options etc. If you have a specific requirement, that can sometimes help narrow down your choices also.
  • Budget is pretty important as well. Obviously. How much do you really want to spend? If you’re anything like us, you almost always end up spending a little more than you would have liked to get what you want, but if you decide your ballpark up front, you may be able to rule out at least a few options.
  • Finally, just accept you’ll never find one camera that does absolutely everything you want it to. In a perfect world, perhaps, but not here on Earth. So even when you’re traveling light, you may end up taking more than one piece of camera equipment with you and using different ones for different things. Here’s some of the gear Chief Swashbuckler travels with.


Lumix FT5, Canon G7X, Garmin VirbXE and iPhone with Lifeproof case.


  1. Canon 7D. (Not pictured) For shorter adventures where packing light isn’t an issue, I’ll always try and take a DSLR. The 7D isn’t exactly the latest model now but does everything I need it to and the quality is more than enough for what I need.
  2. Canon G7X. (Top right) I won’t lie, I’m totally and utterly in love with this camera. Some good manual controls and shoots RAW so I can give my pics a tweak later. I find myself taking this with me more and more instead of my 7D for pure convenience. I’ve already trashed one of them because it’s not so durable and I tend to give my gear a bit of a hiding, but this really is a sensational little camera. (Also worth checking out the newer Sony RX100iv)
  3. Lumix FT5. (Top left) I’m on my third one of these cameras, and each model gets better and better in terms of quality. It really is my go-to waterproof camera. I’ve rock climbed, waterfall jumped, snorkeled, mountain biked, trail run… you name it, I’ve done it with this camera from Cambodia to Nepal and beyond. I’m sad it’s not quite up to scratch with video quality right now though.
  4. Garmin Virb XE. (Bottom left) I’ll admit, having shot on regular cameras for so many years now, I’m struggling to adjust to the ActionCam category in general. But the VirbXE has found a place in my kit and although it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, it’s definitely come in handy.
  5. iPhone 6 with Lifeproof case. (Bottom right) The Lifeproof case isn’t completely indestructible, but it will protect your phone from all sorts of conditions. I’m not sure I’d test whether or not it’s fully waterproof, but it’s kept my phone safe from dust, sand, sweat, rain and spilled drinks. Regardless of what camera gear you’re taking with you, well worth having one of these.

Be strong. Be kind. Be true.

All of us are likely to reach a fork in the road at various times during our lives. Those times when our choices can put us on a radically different trajectory. And for better or for worse we could, as a result, end up in a radically different place.

Sometimes these forks are easy to recognize and we have time to ponder and choose. Maybe even ask someone else for directions. Sometimes it’s not til quite a while later, possibly even years later, that we look back and see them retrospectively. That we inadvertently made a choice and that’s why we’re where we are now.

I reached one of those forks in the road quite recently, and it was one where really, I didn’t want to go in either direction. Yet going back wasn’t an option either. It rarely is.

Making difficult choices.

When faced with two equally difficult choices, it really pays to look as far forward as you can to see where each path may lead. Perhaps right now, neither choice is all that much fun. But if you look forward far enough, sometimes you can see the potential destination of each choice.

Which is easy enough to say, but what do you do in the meantime when the going is tough? For me, I tend to come up with a go-to ‘mantra’. Please know, I’m not talking about some weird, kooky, spiritual thing here. Just a very basic, easy to remember and repeat ‘thing’ that I can hang on to when the going gets tough.

For me, there’s no one size fits all mantra either. I write a new one for each shit situation I find myself in. And without being too specific about my situation right now, I’m going to share my latest one with you.

It’s this: Be strong. Be kind. Be true.

When the weight of my choices are getting on top of me, I try and remember this, and what it means to me.

The first part is pretty straight forward, and is probably quite relevant to most of us in most crappy situations. When things are rough, you’ve got to be at least relatively strong and resilient to make it through. Nothing lasts forever. Not the good times or the bad. So sometimes you just have to be as strong as you can for as long as you can and hope like hell you outlast the shit that’s hitting the fan.

Then there’s ‘Be kind’. You know, when things are rough, it’s easier than ever to forget to be kind to people. Or yourself. Especially if you’re feeling like someone else might be the cause of your pain. (Which usually, they’re not anyway, but let’s not go there. That’s a topic for another day.)

Sometimes being kind means saying and doing the difficult things that need to be said and done, even if they’re not easy. And sometimes, it involves exactly the opposite – and just letting things go without the need to say or do anything at all. No matter how much you might like to.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

How do you know the difference and when to do what? That’s where ‘Be true’ comes in. Being true to yourself and your own values and principles. Being true to the kind of person you say you are or most want to be. We are our actions. If you’re ever not clear about what to do, or not to do, just think about the person you most want to be, and think about what that person, that version of you, would do.

Because the funny thing is, if you make those choices and do those things often enough, low and behold, you’ll end up being that person.

 Next time you hit a fork in the road or are faced with difficult choices or journeys, maybe consider writing yourself a mantra. It doesn’t have to be poetic. It doesn’t have to sound cool. Hell, you don’t even have to say it out loud, so don’t feel the pressure to write something eloquent enough to withstand external scrutiny. This is simply something that has to work for you. That helps you keep your eyes on the prize. That stops your mind wandering in the wrong direction.

And if all else fails, you can always borrow mine: Be strong. Be kind. Be true.



Running Australia’s Surf Coast

After running the Big Sur International Marathon on America’s ‘Jagged Edge’ at the end of April, I almost immediately set my sights on a Surf Coast Trail Marathon re-match back in Australia. Last year was the inaugural race, and with ioMerino sponsoring the event, it seemed only right that I would make the 800km road trip across and fly the ioMerino flag.

Last year I was carrying a serious, chronic injury and was in no condition to run a full marathon. And on trails at that. Naturally, I did it anyway and had a pretty horrible day out, taking 6:18 to finish the course, so this year I felt like I had something to prove. Besides, the race had captured my imagination, so I was also keen to go back and actually enjoy it this time.

The course itself is actually quite mild compared to many trail races. There’s no crazy elevation or technical stuff, although there’s quite a bit of beach running and the softer sand can definitely take its toll. This year the forecast was for a mercifully mild morning with temperatures of around 7c/44f, but not due to go much higher than that for the rest of the race. Knowing it would be slightly warmer than last year, I opted for the Vital ribbed long sleeve with my Altitude Tee, and my ever-present Highpoint Necktube to keep my ears warm. And my bad haircut hidden. This is basically my go-to trail gear these days and serves me well across all sorts of activities and temperatures.

Compared to last year, I managed to shave almost 10 minutes off the first half of the course, and passed the half marathon starting line before they took off which made for a much more interesting second half as the half marathon front runners made their way through the field. Damn, those guys are fast!

I slowed down quite a bit in the second half of the race, but still managed to enjoy the spectacular coastal, cliff-top views. After last year’s ‘King Tide’ where the ocean was so far in there was only a tiny bit of super soft sand to run on, it was a relief to find the sand much firmer under foot and made for easier running. Even if that was somewhat evened out by a pretty aggressive headwind. The last thing I needed 30+kms into a 43kms race!

The overall race winner, Damien Angus, polished the course off in a lightning quick 3:10:04. In fairness, Damien is an elite triathlete and Age Group Ironman World Champion having won his category at Kona, Hawaii, so I don’t feel too bad for taking an extra two hours to complete the course myself. I’d hoped to crack the 5hr mark this year, but I’ll take a 1hr+ PR over last year’s lack lustre effort. As for that elusive 5hr mark, there’s always next year…

For an event in only its second year, it’s superbly organised and supported. With fairly easy access to the trails at many points along the way, it’s also a great supporter’s race. It may not have the huge crowds of some of the more high profile road races, but trail races can be quite solitary a lot of the time, so just seeing anyone along the way, cheering you on, is a nice change. I was lucky to have fellow adventurer and ioMerino wearer Kyle Williams make the trip down to the coast to cheer me across the finish line as well which was nice.

It’s a sentiment confirmed by Race Director, Chris Ord: “Last year was special as the first, but this year seemed to up the ante in terms of people being so encouraging of everyone, and so damn happy. And the number one feedback we’re getting is that the volunteers were out-of-this-world friendly and made all the difference when runners were hitting their walls! It is they who really make the event experience top notch for everyone, and as an organizer, I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Today, more than ever, there are so many new events on offer, runners really need to pick and choose the races they do, and each race needs its own identity and draw card to attract runners. I know I had to choose between this and a regional Marathon on the edge of the world famous Flinders Ranges on the same weekend, but in the end, I simply couldn’t resist those awesome coastal views and the great atmosphere.

“The whole reason the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon came into existence was to offer an inclusive, supportive event that enticed runners onto the trail and down to experience the stunning environs of the Surf Coast in particular” Chris explains. “We believe we have a special place here in terms of the coast and the trails along it and we wanted to share it, while also creating an event that was as much about just participating as the winning.”

More than 560 runners crossed the line on event day making the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon one of the bigger trail events in Australia. And I was happy to be warm and comfortable in my ioMerino along the way as always. And not in the last few runners like I was last year!

Running the Jagged Edge

Everyone has a dream or two, and for the past five years running the Big Sur International Marathon has been one of mine. Don’t ask me why, because honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I can’t even remember how I first heard about the race. But ever since I did, I’ve wanted to run it. This is a race that takes in 26.2 miles of coastal road between Big Sur and Carmel on the Californian ‘Jagged Edge’ Coast. And it’s not an easy race to get into. It typically sells out in minutes, and when you live in Australia, trying to enter at the start of their day, means getting up in the middle of the night to try your luck and see how fast your internet connection and typing skills are.

For me, that meant waking up at 2:30am to fire up the computer and, beyond my wildest dreams, I managed to secure a spot. Which is probably just as well because they’ve since announced they’ll be moving to a lottery system from 2016. So no more ‘the quick and the dead’. It will be pure luck from now on. Having entered, I then had to start the hard work. I’ve been carrying a chronic injury for well over a year, and the last marathon I ran was the Surf Coast Trail Marathon last June when I had a very, very tough day at the office and dragged myself across the finish line in pain, well after most people had already gone home.

I don’t enjoy training of any sort, but over the past 6+ months managed to stay disciplined enough to work hard with my rehab trainer and work towards being marathon ready. At least I hoped I was. In the few months before the race, I completed a few Half Marathons, but still wasn’t 100% certain my body would be up to a full Marathon. And let’s face it, America is a long way to go to run half a race. So I was more than a little nervous.

Usually marathoners have a ‘taper’ week in the lead up to a big run, where they take it easy so they can go into the run with their body well rested and ready to go. Naturally, I did the complete opposite. I landed in the US a week before the race, and proceeded to run every trail I could find. It wasn’t conventional wisdom, and it could well have been my undoing, but the temptation to get out there and run a bunch of new trails was too much to resist. In fairness, I did have a day or two off, but still managed to cover more than 106kms/66miles in the week leading up to the race – which was easily my heaviest weekly running load in well over 12 months! In fact, I rarely ever run that far in a week!

Running the race itself consisted of waking up at around 3am in order to catch a 4am bus from the finish line, all the way back to the starting line, a little over 26miles away. Needless to say it was cold and dark at that time. Naturally, I had my ioMerino on, but I also have a confession to make. I’d gone to Walmart a few days earlier and bought a cheap tracksuit to wear at the start line. Yes, I know, synthetic sacrilege, right? But race protocol for a cold race morning like this, is to wait til the very last minute before the race starts, then take off your outer layers and leave them at the starting line where they are collected and donated to charity, and there was no way I was going to leave my beloved ioMerino there. (Sorry charity people for the crappy Walmart tracksuit!)

Starting a race in the early hours of the morning, but then running for around four hours always has temperature challenges. And it’s even worse when you’re running from cool, windy shade, to full sun and back again – the range of temperatures can be pretty significant. Not to mention variations in your own body temperature. Typically, I’d say the temperature ranged from a little over freezing at the start up to somewhere around the 20c/68f mark – and yo-yo-ing everywhere in between throughout.

While some runners went for shorts and singlet, I knew the cooler weather would be uncomfortable and opted instead for a Vital long sleeve with an Altitude T layered over the top. This kept me warm at the start and through the cooler sections, but thanks to its natural breathability and temperature regulation, meant I didn’t overheat when it warmed up. Even when I worked up a bit of a sweat and ended up a little damp and the wind picked up, the MicroMerino® kept me warm. It’s one thing to read about these benefits, but when you’re out there and your comfort really depends on it, it’s nice to know there’s substance behind the promises. Running a marathon is difficult enough without also having uncomfortable clothes to contend with. Oh, and I also wore a Highpoint Necktube ‘bandana’ style to keep my ears warm. In cold and windy weather, I really suffer from sore ears, so the Necktube was exactly what I needed. It may have been soaked with perspiration by the end, but it still did the job nicely.

I managed to finish the race in pretty good shape all things considered, and the body held up well – as did my ioMerino. I’m constantly surprized at how many runners are still wearing synthetic DriFit style running gear, or even worse, ‘Killer Cotton’ in these sorts of conditions. I kind of want to grab them and ask them what the hell they are thinking, but the middle of a race probably isn’t the best time to do that! But I’m more than happy to do it now: If you’re a runner, and you run in cooler conditions, you must try ioMerino. Ditch the synthetics and the cotton – (You know Search & Rescue teams call it ‘Killer Cotton’ because of how poorly it performs in cold weather, right?) – and get some ioMerino on you. Like me, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t try it well before now. And if you’re already wearing it, welcome to the club!