Just about three weeks ago, the quest of running in virgin landscapes brought us to Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia, where we began a two week running adventure through the world’s least populated country.
For two weeks, the curiosity of our feet led us on a crazy pilgrimage across steppes and gorges, up giant sand dunes, and past hundreds of camels. We ran three to four hours a day, camped and stayed in gers, (the Mongolian yurt) and when we weren’t being the only three people running in the country we generally drank all kinds of exotic milks, became dedicated red meat & game eaters, and played Mongolian children’s games with camel bones. We did not shower, and we had no cell phones, no computers, and no fruit and vegetables. Instead we had wet wipes, an InReach satellite SOS device, and Haribo fruit-flavoured gummy bears.
While we went in search of desolate landscapes, it was actually the people that stand out most. In a flash rain storm that chewed up the dirt road and fogged visibility in Northern Gobi, we dropped in unannounced on a local family, who welcomed us for milk tea even though it was before 9am, and the teenage daughter was still sleeping in the center of our gathering. We were lucky to experience the critical factor that helps Mongolians survive, an empathy and interdependency that supports them to live in harmony with the harsh land. In this world, each family served a critical role to one another. Instead of the latest waterproof technology or tall rain boots, they had Community. They let nature take its course, and while they waited, they had a dinner party. Can you imagine if we were to implement this in our own communities?
A few people joked that this author would maybe stay behind to roam Mongolia, but we all came home, loving Mongolia but loving our Community more. In search of remoteness and simplicity, we found an appreciation for people, and for complexity, a new lens on our lives we didn’t know existed. As always, the simple act of moving our feet brought us far more than just that. Going to run in Mongolia was far more than a run.