Do you run? Are you a researcher? Are you a researcher who use running in your research and wish to meet other like-minded (and like-bodied), fit and clever people? Or are you an anti-running sceptic but enjoy a cracking not-run-of-the-(tread)mill conference? Then you should have attended the RUN! RUN! RUN! An International Festival of Running 1.0 #r3fest – and make plans to come to the next leg of this biannual Festival, which should take place around Summer 2016 in London and Leeds.
The first run of the Festival (which was also RUN! RUN! RUN!’s inaugural event) took place at the Slade Research Centre on 26 June 2014. It was a runaway success that was reported in the Guardian. Funded by grants from UCL and AHRC, the Festival was organized and curated by Kai and Dr Alan Latham. Around 50 people from 30 institutions (including Harvard University, Glasgow University and UBC; running store Run and Become; social enterprises and charities Streetscape and Goodgym; running club Highgate Harriers; creative studio PhilBeat from Singapore) and 25 cities (including Melbourne, Milan, Vancouver and Grenoble) congregated at the Slade Research Centre to examine running, not just within its traditional contexts of sport or medicine, but as an arts and humanities subject.
The innovative programming set out to provoke debates and create unexpected meeting points. People from diverse disciplines (including biomechanics, paleoanthropology and fine art) presented keynotes, shared ‘live’ performances, tours and workshops; senior academics intermingled with up-and-coming performance artists, established filmmakers and community leaders. Parallel activities included a meditation session by ultra-runner Devashishu Torpy (Sri Chimnoy Centre) and a talk by London Olympics medic Dr Courtney Kipps (UCL) on injuries, thereby presenting participants with the dilemma of science versus spirituality.
Praises came forward not just because of it was a pioneering event to scrutinise running, but also for its bold approach. The Guardian reported that ‘other conferences could take a leaf out of #r3fest’s book’. Dr Derek McCormack (Oxford, Geography) called it a ‘really fun experience’, while Mr Torpy concluded that he has ‘come away very inspired.’ Sarah Petts (SOAS) even ventured that this was ‘[p]ossibly the best conference ever’.
And what an endorphin-filled day it was. Highlights included:
Not one but two keynote speakers: Professor Hayden Lorimer (University of Glasgow) and Professor Gregg Whelan/Lone Twin (Falmouth University)!
‘Show & Touch’ by paleoanthropologist Dr Matthew Skinner and Ms Gemma Price: of a fossil cast of a 2-million year old early human runner which can serve to remind us, amidst the ‘Nike-fication’/ commodification of running today, of how it all began.
8-minute ‘Talk Fests’ by expert sports medic Dr Courtney Kipps (London Marathon, Team GB 2012 Olympics & Paralympics et al), artist Ms Jo Volley (who likes to pick up oak apples when she runs and then magically transforms them into ink that she uses in her paintings) and Streetscape (an award-winning landscaping social enterprise for young people that has arisen from founder Guy Watts’ passion for long distance running).
‘Film Fest’ by Mr Ivo Gormley: Screening of hit film The Runners (Sheffield Doc Fest; Open City Docs Fest et al) and chat about Goodgym (a group of runners who ‘get fit by doing good’).
‘Running London Tours’ by Dr Kris Grint/Bentham Project (through the thrilling West End on the ‘pre-prandial circumgyrations’ of philosopher Jeremy Bentham back in the 1820’s) and Mr Richard Wright (community involvement specialist on social transformation in Bloomsbury).
Hands-on or rather ‘Feet-On Workshops’ run by Collectif Totem, a group of researchers in the fields of Geography, Sociology, Planning and Architecture who have come all the way from Grenoble, Milan and Oum El Bouaghi, and Dr Andrew Filmer, who hails from Aberystwyth (and Sydney).
‘Live’ performance of Run To Draw by Amelia Johnstone and Peter Hathaway,which demonstrates how running can allow us to re-claim fun and be creative.
A ‘Museum Of Running’ by the Walking or rather Running Encyclopaedia of Running and Curator of Run Run Run! itself, Dr Alan Latham, which showcases vintage Nike running shoes and classic Runners’ World magazines from the 1970′s.
→Just how festive was it? Click here for images & reviews.
→ Read Running the Line review here.
→ Read Highgate Harriers Newsletter review here.
→ Read UCL Department of Geography report here.
→ Read Time Out and Slade School listing.
→ Join Running Cultures Research Network on JISCMAIL.
→ Why run a Festival? Read Curatorial Statement.
→ Read abstracts of papers presented.
→ Where were you? See which forerunners attended the Festival.
→ What does running look like? See images submitted.
→ What does running look like in motion? See moving images submitted.
→ What passages inspire runners? Read quotes submitted.
→ What is the sound of two feet moving? Listen to ‘running music’ nominated.
Above: Images from the Festival. Below: screenshot of Guardian review, written by Dr Alex Lockwood.