photos: Vismante Ruzgaite.
I have been a sports enthusiast and “urban” active for almost my entire life. But it’s only until I moved to Berlin that I got more interested in running and really found a passion for it.
During my first few days in Berlin, I stumbled upon a friend of mine who invited me to join her running group on a Wednesday morning before work. At first, I was skeptical, why would I run with people? I had always seen running as a personal experience, almost like a meditative moment to clear your head out. But moving into a new city, you want to meet new people right? So I decided I would join their run. This was my first time running in a group and I immediately liked it. In just an hour, I had met a lot of new people and got to learn a lot about the city, its different neighborhoods, its history. It was a revealing experience! I discovered the benefits of running in a community and being part of a group made me realize that running can also be an activity to connect, socialize, laugh and share.
To give you an example of what running inspired me to, I first have to tell you about one of my projects: Music On Walls is a platform that promotes visual art that was inspired by music that I founded some years ago. My favorite way to discover a new city is by seeking new art murals. Some of the major art cities are not easy to run in (cause of traffic, pollution…) so most of the time I had to walk or bike. And when I started running in Berlin I realized that this would become for me the best way to discover the murals. It is really easy to get on a run in Berlin and the city really has a great variety of running routes (check out my top 5 running routes in Berlin here).
A few months in Berlin with a deeper understanding of the running culture, I knew that runners were always looking for new routes and that they were open to experience new things while running. I then decided to suggest to different running groups to share with them my knowledge about Urban Art that I gained through my research for Music on Walls and therefore to take them for what I would call “Urban Art Run” (basically an urban art guided tour of Berlin while running). They loved the idea. I then got invited by other running groups to lead UAR and it became a really cool thing to do for me. UAR represents the essence of what I love to do: Promoting art and artist as well as promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.
But this is not the only project that came from running. Earlier this year I got the opportunity to co-found a running app: Runlive with the first idea to make Urban Art Run routes available for everyone through the app, with guided audio cues and live tracking. Another project that developed out of my passion for running is a movement that I call Active Giving which aims to inspire people to be active for a good cause by converting trackable fitness activities into donations that benefit different causes, for instance, a reforestation project.
Today, I am really happy about all the connections, projects and ideas that running has created for me. I can combine my passion for art and running together with the Urban Art Runs. I can get closer to the worldwide running community through Runlive. And I can motivate more people to run and be active for a good cause. Who knows what other projects might come next.
There are so much amazing running events around the world. And the running community is one of the most dedicated communities. I really hope that in the future I will be organizing my own running events worldwide to support good causes and to inspire people to make the world a better place.
I hope that you, too, might be able to experience that running can inspire you to do great things.
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Text: Laurent Petit
Laurent is the founder of Music On Walls, a project dedicated to the promotion of visual arts inspired by music. Through his passion for art and running he created the Urban Art Run Project together with a running app, Runlive.