#40. CLAIRE SIMS – Everything you need to know about Trail Running events

Whether you’re a seasoned trail runner or you’re thinking about running your first trail event, this chat with Trail Running SA Chairwoman Claire Sims will have you respecting the runners, community and events even more.

Jackie 0:10
So without further ado, enjoy this conversation with Claire Sims from trail running as Claire. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I’m looking forward to this conversation because I’ve, I’ve worked with you guys in the past. And it’s very clear that you have a really great group of people running the show there. And the thing about the events that you guys put on, it’s not just running events for runners, they really are great events for families, for beginner runners, they are amazing events. They provide a safe place for people to run and discover new areas and beautiful areas of South Australia. And it’s really important for me and I know it would be important for runners of Adelaide to get a behind the scenes and an understanding of what goes behind these incredible events. So we’re going to kick this conversation off with you. And I’d love to know a little bit about your background because obviously, this isn’t a full time job and it doesn’t pay your bills. So tell us a little bit about you and how you got involved in trail running.

Claire 3:21
So I was born in Adelaide, but shifted away when I was young to Kiwi. So I grew up in New Zealand, and a lifetime of outdoors. But running did not happen until quite a bit later, I spent all of my years at university involved in the university tramping club, as we call it in New Zealand, which is like a hiking or bushwalking Club. So most of my weekends were spent in the mountains. And I got involved as well on the committee there, which is just a great way to meet people. So I stuck around a little bit after uni as well. I spent quite a few years at uni. So that helped. Anyway, once working life started, the prospect of getting away every weekend and getting home hideously late on a Sunday night started to become a little unappealing on some weekends. And I found walking a little bit inefficient. And so my brother was a very active runner, and I thought oh, I’ll just start in the dark, so no one else can see our thought, And the small issue with doing that is there’s inevitably some pretty wicked hills involved. So you sort of get a bit brought back down to earth pretty quickly. I think its relatively humbling. So yeah, I just started, basically. And I’d sort of been very much the first advice I ever got was time on foot. So in my head, I’d say okay, I’ll go for 30 minutes. So I would just, you know, run out in one direction for 30 minutes and then Sorry, 15 minutes or so and then see if I could make my way back. And then as I got a bit more confident that maybe I could sort of handle about 30 minutes, I started venturing to some of the sort of local trails around a nearby reservoir. And yeah, and then sort of invested in the head torch. And yeah, just sort of went from there. But I never did any group runs or anything, I was far too terrified to even consider turning up to a group setting. My brother was running shorter distances, but in a very, what I perceive to be quite a quick group. And I was like, I’d get invited, but there’s just no way I was turning up to that. And, yeah, trail running wasn’t really it hadn’t exploded anywhere near like, now. I look at what’s happening in New Zealand, and it’s as massive as it is here. But that was back in 2011, 2012. So yeah, there wasn’t like an obvious club to join or anything to go along with. But yeah, then I went travelling for six months in 2012. And I came back with two goals to keep me motivated: to sign up for a half marathon, and then within a year to make a change, like professionally shipped somewhere, because Aiden’s pretty small. There’s not massive career prospects there. Yeah, in the long term. So yeah, I ran the half marathon and I think I thought I was gonna die at certain points, but then made it through but it was a pretty cool event. A lot of people can relate to that. Yes, definitely. No idea about nutrition. Hydration. Yeah, I just crawled across the finish line, but was pretty stoked. And yeah, and then within a year made plans to cross the ditch over to Adelaide from a professional capacity to try and find some work here. I work as a hydrologist, which, when people ask, I just say “stuff to do with water” and the river”.

Yeah, so I shifted over to Adelaide in mid 2013. And discovered that was not a great time to move here because there weren’t a lot of jobs going so I did all sorts. Coach tennis, and just applied for job after job and googled running groups because I thought that’ll be something I’ll get into because they didn’t seem to be an equivalent of the university tramping club environment that I’d come from. And, you know, found essays Road Runners all suck. And then critically found that they had a trail running group that went out on Sunday mornings, and finally worked up the courage to go and join the group and I didn’t have a car. And I remember I was living at my neighbor’s place. And I’d figured out how long it would take me to bike from her place in Clapham to the waterfall galley to chambers, which is where the group met. And it was bucketing with rain. So back there, and the group was heading out like super friendly, but I didn’t know anyone from a bar, so I was going up through the mountains and trails and that’s when this Kiwi found out about that. Red clay is super slick, when it’s wet. And I just remember there was this guy that looked like he knew what he was doing. And I was like, I’ll just stick with him, like he seems to be moving at a similar pace. So I will just stay with him because I have no idea where I am. And I want to be able to get home and that guy turned out to be Doug smart, who was very much trailer running worlds a year. So stuck behind him. Then we got to the end, and they climbed into their cars and I got invited for coffee, but I was unsure about joining. I was like, I just want to get home. I’m so wet and cold. Yeah, that was how I discovered trail running in SA. And yeah, I continued going to the Sunday social runs, and eventually worked up the courage to stay for coffee. And that’s how I ended up on the trail running as a committee because of a casual conversation with David close after one of those runs about, you know, previous volunteer roles. And when I ventured that, I’d been a treasurer for the travelling club. He said, Oh, we need one of those. You can be it. And that was that. That was in 2014. And that was how I’ve been for seven years now. I haven’t looked back. So. Yeah.

Jackie 9:41
Wow. you’ve just described so many of the feelings that so many people feel about running and that’s the whole fear of, you know, getting out there meeting people being left behind getting lost. I mean, that is a big one for me. Trials.

Claire 10:04
Yeah, they’re the greatest fear that people express to us, usually that it’s getting lost or being left behind.

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