Running through life’s hills and flats - Rob Bathgate
“Everybody has a different reason to run”, Rob Bathgate, ponders. For him it’s a time to let his head space expand just as much as his lungs. It’s adventure and freedom, an addiction and a compulsion and when faced with a major health issue, resulting in three heart surgeries, running became a part of Rob’s emotional and physical recovery.
It’s a one-foot-after-the-other thing, persevering, getting to the top of the hill and finding an outlook that is wide open. Rob was born into wild spaces. He was brought up in Cornwall, England and the Isle of Man. Family fun for him growing up was “letterboxing on Dartmoor”. It’s a kind of DIY orienteering that saw Rob trooping over moorland looking for a box under a rock sitting behind a particular tree.
A windswept adventure that fuelled an ongoing passion for following out-of-the-way trails. And if you run you get to go further and deeper into the wild, while getting wonderful muddy and cobweb blown. “It’s a way to explore and find new places and for me it’s more than physical, the benefit you get out of it. Running is the way I relax, it’s my quiet time.”
Rob came to live in New Zealand in his twenties and then, in 2008, he settled with his wife in Tauranga, he put out some feelers to find some running buddies.
“The two people who responded were both training for the Tarawera Ultra 100k at the time. I thought they were mad. But I started running with them and ended up pacing one of them in the Tarawera that year and then, I thought, ‘I need to do this’, and so the next year, he paced me.”
His mate's natural habitat was in the bush and so Rob found himself following them into the Kaimai Ranges which has now become his “happy place”.
“Your mind is in your surroundings. If you are pounding the pavements you start thinking about running, but in the bush you are just out there amongst it all.”
Rob has recently taken on a new mountain, a new exciting climb - he became the owner of the Wild Things NZ Trail Running Club website, taking over from the club founders, outdoor adventure legends Mal and Sally Law. Through a friendship developed 8 years ago, Rob started working for the Laws and when they decided it was time to step away and into more adventures, Rob was their choice to carry it forward. He says it’s the ultimate, combining his love of running with his knowledge and experience in web development.
“I really wanted to have something that I could really get my teeth into for myself”.
Rob has been waking up with a head full of ideas and so he was pleased to find out that whiteboards were essential items in level 4.
“Within the first day it was just covered with ideas. I am feeling excited because there are just so many things I want to do.”
Running is part of the process and now, for Rob, it is about the act of getting out, rather than about going faster and further. It’s a moving meditation and a time to unwind and EarSHOTS bluetooth headphones help him to take that a step further. Time out from in front of the computer is also a chance for him to listen to some mellow music or a podcast. Finding the best headphones for running hasn’t been easy. He has what he calls “annoyingly narrow ear canals” that earbuds fall out of and he has a wasteland of products that just haven’t worked.
“But EarSHOTS earbuds stay put and that’s amazing.”
Running is a way of life for Rob, and his daughter, aged five is starting to take an interest, asking him recently, “dad how do you jog?”.
“She has loped along beside me for about 3kms which is pretty cool. I’m looking forward to the day when we can have big adventures together.”
If you're keen to learn more about Rob's new adventure, Wild Things, New Zealand's trail running community, check out www.wildthings.club and use the code wildearshots to get three extra months when you take out a VIP membership.