Living The Dirtbag Dream

By Mario Fraioli

“You put a picture up of running and people are like ‘Oh, you live the dream,’ but no, it’s not anybody’s dream. It’s a nightmare at best,” Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier and elite ultrarunner David Laney told Liz Gill for Tracksmith’s Meter magazine. “You’re working towards something, but there’s a lot of nights when you’re camped at a trailhead, sleeping in your car. You read a book for an hour, make some pasta, and then you’re just really lonely for three hours until you actually fall asleep. There’s nobody really to talk to and you don’t have phone service, so like you’re just kind of like, well, I guess I’ll just go to sleep because it’s 9 o’clock and it’s dark.’”

The piece the above quote was excerpted from, “Dirtbagging: Unconventional Lifestyles of America’s Elite,” partly celebrates the epic sense of adventure some post-collegiate runners choose to pursue while also shedding a little light on the harsh realities of the over-romanticized social media phenomenon known as #VanLife. It’s a quick, interesting read that also lends some additional perspective around the topic of “professional” running that I explored a couple months ago.

“It’s all a game of doing things that people find interesting so that they’ll want to buy the same shit that you’re wearing, so that companies will pay you to wear your stuff,” Anton Krupicka told Gill. “It’s marketing. That’s my job, marketing.”

A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.