Editor's Letter | The Peace Issue - June 2017
This month's issue is all about peace and quiet
It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re living in troubled times. Less than two weeks ago Manchester suffered the worst terrorist atrocity on British soil in more than a decade. This horrific act of mass murder fell in the middle of an already fractious general election campaign, one which grew out of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit - probably the greatest constitutional change in living memory.
On a global scale, Europe is dealing with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, thanks to brutal and seemingly unresolvable conflicts on its borders. Meanwhile the volatile occupant of the White House has just withdrawn from the Paris Climate Change accords - a move more ill-considered than even the most covfefe-y of his misspelled Twitter rants.
“He once ran for three and a half days non-stop, with no sleep, covering 350 miles in the process."
Given the turbulent state of the country and indeed the planet, it might seem odd to produce a Peace Issue now, but perhaps it is exactly what’s needed. After all, there’s always been something inherently peaceful about getting away into the great outdoors. And when the rest of the world seems to be going to shit, it’s worth reminding ourselves that it’s still out there.
For our Great British Adventures series, associate editor Jack Clayton travelled to Snowdonia and enjoyed some supremely serene moments - at least when his “mate Dave" wasn’t terrifying him by taking a near-fatal wrong turn up Glyder Fach. Meanwhile Fergus Scholes headed to Portugal for an epic three-day trail run along the remote coastal paths of the Rota Vicentina - experiencing the peculiar inner peace that comes from pushing yourself physically, in one of the quietest places in Europe.
This month’s Big Interview features Dean Karnazes, arguably the world’s most famous ultra runner, and a man who knows a thing or two about pushing himself physically. Dean once ran for three and a half days non-stop, with no sleep, covering 350 miles in the process. But despite the fact it’s nearly killed him on more than one occasion, he’s surprisingly zen about the pain involved in ultra running and what it’s taught him.
Of course even Dean’s extreme feats of endurance pale in comparison to the suffering experienced by those who are truly destitute. The Peace Issue also features a profile of Danny Burrows, a photographer who worked for years in the world of adventure sports but has recently turned his hand to reportage, producing a series of searing pictures of life in the former refugee camp known as the Jungle in Calais.
Despite the extreme hardship he witnessed, Danny’s experience was an overwhelmingly positive one. He remains a believer in the power of pictures to change things, and rather than pitiable, he found the dignity of the homeless and stateless people he met inspiring.
While it’s by no means the be all-and-end-all, sport and the outdoors can undoubtedly help people like Danny’s subjects - those who’ve lost everything - to turn their lives around. This issue will also feature The Bike Project, an incredible charity which helps refugees boost their self-confidence, psychological well-being and practical life chances through the simple act of teaching them to cycle. And if there was any further doubt that adventure sports can provide a powerful antidote to extreme stress, then this month’s story about the G.I.’s who surfed during and after the Vietnam war should dispell it.
“I met a couple of guys who went to prison, were heroin addicts, guys who’ve been destroyed by the war," says Rick Thomas, a Vietnam vet turned councillor who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder himself. “I told them to get boards, and these guys began to get off drugs and alcohol and change their lives."
Jerry Anderson, a 67-year-old former marine and fellow PTSD sufferer agrees: “Surfing [is] a continuing challenge. The ocean gives you that therapy and calmness [as well as] an adrenaline rush."
“I met a couple of guys who went to prison, were heroin addicts, guys who’ve been destroyed by the war."
Reading their stories reminded me that however crazy the world seems, however manic the demands of modern life, there’s always the great outdoors and an adventure waiting to provide you with a bit of peace.
Enjoy the adventure.
- Tristan, Editor-in-Chief