When I first got to know Jarrod, then affectionately known to our mechanical engineering class as Cookie, he was a reserved soul with a delightfully dry sense of humour. He normally sported a beard, and was a penchant for lollies, and DVD’s. Fast forward a few years, and you might not recognise the clean shaven ultrarunner he has morphed into.
I like Cookie’s story particularly because he was just a regular human that decided to try something different. He saw some friends running and biking, thought it might be interesting, tried it, liked it, and kept trying it. Slowly he, and everyone else saw the effects on his ability and physique. He changed his diet, he changed his habits, he changed himself.
Looking from the outside, I think, at times, his quest for fitness and self improvement was bordering on obsession. It made him a rather polarising personality. He was so driven to achieve in his new hobbies, he would chose training over almost everything else, including his friends. It is a quality I also recognise in myself. More than once, I have been guilty of choosing mountains or training over people, only to learn it was not necessarily for the better.
However, almost more interesting than watching his sporting skills develop has been to see his social awareness evolve too. After one of my recent blog posts he messaged me with some interesting articles and thoughts regarding the trade off between freedom and establishing a community. He highlighted the fact when we have the freedom to travel the world and see so many different places we often lose our communities and therefore the people we have to do cool adventures with.
He admitted to missing the NZ based communities he had built around his hobbies, group running and fitness, while still enjoying his time travelling Europe. Additionally, it sounds like he now values balance in his life, and understands in someway there can be too much of a good thing. I thought it was a poignant change in his outlook.
In March, Cookie, ran his first 100km race and not only did he finish it, he crushed his pre-race goals coming home in under 18 hours. This is no mean feat considering the 6000m of elevation gain. He wrote a great race report on his blog “ample skills”. It’s a nice mix of dry wit and accurate description while occasionally giving us a deeper insight into his grey matter.
I’m certainly intrigued to see where the Cookie Monster ends up as he tries to tackle the same first world dilemmas a lot of us 20-something’s are facing. I also look forward to reading more entertaining blogs from his time in Europe. Follow along at https://ampleskills.wordpress.com.