It’s a marathon effort preparing for one. Months in advance, you’re grafting through a gruelling training regime to build up endurance. And years prior to the race your life is taking a path, often unconsciously, towards making the decision to sign up. Every race was always going to happen: the start line an end to what came before.
But what is it that makes you run in the first place? And why do we voluntarily choose to go through blood, sweat and excruciating muscle tears?
For its new video series, 26.2 Miles: The Runners’ Story, Swiss brand On has made THE FACE its running partner to explore the emotional endurance that connects every marathon entrant. Four London-based creatives have been challenged to run their first marathon, all with different reasons for committing; some chasing highs, others escaping lows. The series, directed by Jon E Price, follows their footsteps as they train on the streets of London and premium workout centre Barry’s, highlighting the story behind every runner as well as the trials that lie ahead of them.
First up is Corbin Shaw, a Sheffield-born artist and THE FACE favourite making work that revolves around masculinity, the North and sport. Speaking in Chapter One, he discusses chasing the runner’s high, wired on the buzz that bolting down the street brings. “I’m just addicted to that feeling of euphoria,” he says. “What if you just pushed yourself a little further?” While running helps Corbin switch off swirling thoughts in his head, it also fuels his creativity. “When I’m not running, I’m not creative,” he explains. “When I’m running more, everything else works better. It’s all in sync.”
Similarly exploring masculinity and mental health, writer and activist Hélène Selam Kleih – founder of the HIM + HIS project – talks candidly about overcoming an eating disorder, which previously distorted her relationship with exercise. “Having an eating disorder is so focused on your mental health, it’s not actually about your body half the time,” she explains, highlighting the importance of “listening to your body” and pushing it, but not to the point of it being “abusive” to your health.
Two musicians complete the line-up. Lewisham legend Novelist attacks the challenge with typical silver-tongued zeal. “I’m developing a new version of myself,” he says. “I want to outdo myself and then redo myself.” Finally, there’s Jordss, a Rinse FM resident and Boiler Room mainstay, bravely taking on the marathon challenge following a sudden cardiac arrest two years ago. “I have to seize every moment and enjoy life as much as possible,” she says. Remembering the indescribable feeling of “dying and coming back”, she’s ready to race, even if it “scares the living daylights” out of her.
Chapter One of 26.2 Miles: The Runners’ Story proves that getting to the start is just as hard as reaching the finish — and takes place long before you even sign-up to the marathon — or, if fate’s your thing, it was always meant to be. Keep an eye out for Chapter Two, which sees all four step up their training and try to fit it around their daily routines, questioning whether they can keep it up. For now, the race is On.
DIRECTOR Jon E Price CREATIVE DIRECTORS Clara Goodger & Jenn Byrne EXEC PRODUCERS Rosanna Gouldman & Rose Darkins PRODUCERS Jack Filtness DOP Jack Exton STYLIST Hollie Williamson GROOMER Maya Man EDITOR Kit Wells STORY EDITOR Ellen Evans SOCIAL EDITOR Millie Gray MUSIC COMPOSITION Father GRADE ETC SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER Victoria De Zanche PRODUCTION COMPANY Riffraff