If you run well, it seems like you can continue like there is no tomorrow. Life simply becomes playing. I tried to capture that idea in pictures together with Sand Gloss Photography. And a few days later live it out in a 62 km beach run.
For a long time I felt the need to do something with my love of endless running. Simply playing, without having a notion of how far you go. Just follow your nature. For me this also means discovering (new) environments, swimming, without responsibility or hindrances. Like what my skinny dipping pictures from Zeeland radiated in the previous GVRAT-post.
The nice thing is, I had only just taken those pictures when a very nice opportunity came along in a Facebook group. Sand Gloss Fotografie – Sandra – was looking for models for a holiday project. And the photos in her portfolio looked very natural. Lively. So on impulse I reacted immediately and suggested a date and my vision. I was over the moon when I heard I could participate.
Anxious nail biting usually ensues after following wild impulses. In reailty, I was a bit tense to pose outside. So far all my model- and bodypaint photos had been taken inside studios. Of course that wasn't in corona-kilo time… and because of the longer schedules, I usually also had a month or more to tighten my flabby abdominals a bit. Plus, I had just turned 38. Maybe not old for some, but I'm one of those guys who always tries to forget his birthday. Not that age is a thing for me, but I don't want to be confronted with it either.
Fortunately, the photographer managed to reassure me somewhat. She has also looked at the blog and has a good impression of what I am like physically. So we meet on the 22nd of July at 7.30 am at the Westduinpark in The Hague Kijkduin. Why so early? Well that has several reasons. First of all the light is a lot softer then, which leads to better pictures, and secondly it's still quiet at that hour. Fewer snoopers and fewer people walking through the image or who don't want photos to be taken on the nude beach that starts there at Strandslag 8.
Meeting the photographer, I immediately felt at ease. Sometimes you have to get used to each other and sniff around when you meet a new person, especially when you know you have to be a model, but I trusted Sandra right away. She has a calm appearance. Now all we had to do, was find a good location to start shooting.
At first we thought of building the shoot up as a kind of story. From waking up to stretching out and spying on the surroundings, to walking and playing and maybe swimming for a while. And then, in the end, being tired of playing and sleeping once again. Just life as a game.
For the powerful stances in which I was to discover the surroundings, it would be nice to stand on top of a dune. Then you can really look out over the surroundings and take a picture from below, which makes you look a bit on top of the world. On the right side of the path towards the beach there was a prohibition sign and pieces of the dune had been cordoned off with barbed wire; on the left there were no signs, and there were dozens of footsteps that seemed to indicate that there was a path through the sand.
“What do you think you're doing here?” We weren't even there for all that long, before two cops arrived. We didn't notice them at first, although that wouldn't have changed a thing, because in our eyes we didn't do anything wrong. They thought otherwise.
According to the cops – a man and a woman – we shouldn't have walked there. It should even be spelled out on the signs at the entrance of the Westduinpark. However: we assumed that it was a path and on this side there were clearly no markings while on all other forbidden areas the restrictions were clearly visible. Both in explicit prohibition signs and by adding barbed wire. The sign – we looked it up afterwards – was in tiny letters in Dutch, while Sandra does not master that language. But according to the man we really entered a vulnerable nature area and for that we would get a fine. In addition, he found it dubious that we were taking nude photos.
We decided not to protest strongly against the fine and let it come over us. Although nudity – at less than 100 m from the nude beach – is not forbidden in the Netherlands as long as it is not offensive, he might give us difficulties and write out a receipt as offense is in the eye of the beholder. Even though it was early, we were not very close to the main trail and people could not miss out on seeing the nude beach at this exit. A fine for inappropriate nudity is probably a more serious crime. It's actually absurd if you think about it, because why would something so natural and non-sexual be offensive to a child, as the male cop claimed.
Luckily, the female agent was a lot less strict or shocked. She did explain that there are extra checks at the moment because a lot of people come into the dunes when they are not supposed to, which explained the footsteps that led us to the path. She also wrote down our defence at the fine and we're going to use that to challenge it. Paying 95 euros twice is a waste of money after all.
To avoid any further problems, we went straight to the nude beach. Where indeed there was barbed wire at the dunes. Especially Sandra had not yet shaken of the scare. I was more annoyed, and felt resigned at the fine. For now there was nothing we could do about it. The sleep photos had to be as close to the barbed wire as possible, to get close to where some marram grass grew. Pretending to sleep succeeded miraculously enough.
The nerves quickly dropped back to normal and we had fun taking the pictures. I am quite proud of the one above, which I really consider to be endless running. The funny thing is that this picture is very different from what I initially thought it would be: it is not completely separate from the surroundings. I also have such a photo, though (see below). I may float above the ground and stay in my own bubble, but I am still part of the rest of the world. There are people on the beach, the surfing and sailing schools and apartment buildings are quite visible. But I'm going my way.
After the running and swimming, the shoot was over. In a period of less than 2 hours we had produced an enormous amount of photos. Usually many of them are discarded during the selection. This time it was very difficult, as the freedom for me totally burst of the photo. So I apologize for this small surplus in the number of pictures.
Clothes off, shoes off, not even a sports watch. But the Freestyle Libre, the big white button on my left arm, stayed on. I doubted beforehand if I would take it off. I even chose the date so that it would expire on that day, meaning I could have removed it. But I didn't.
It may be a spoiler on my skin, but the Libre also gives me a certain amount of freedom. And I'm quite grateful for that. I'm not ashamed of the diabetes either. But what really convinced me was the diabetes awareness action to show your sensor. So I asked Sandra to take a few more pictures with the sensor in the spotlights.
To the horizon
And that endless running, how did it go with that? Well, after taking the pictures I was pretty tired. Not only because posing is tiring, but especially because of the discharge of the stress from getting a fine. In the end I ran just about 18 km.
The endlessnes tickled. Was I capable of it? I was thinking of the 11 Strandentocht, a race I would have liked to run once. It is a walking or running competition where you go from Bloemendaal aan Zee to Hoek van Holland. The longest distance is 60 km, but getting off earlier is possible. That run will not take place this year. So why not run it myself, but from the other direction, where you usually have a tail wind to blow you forwards? And then start in Hoek van Holland, which is relatively closeby. With Scheveningen – also good to do – I would have a handy check halfway. I secretly asked Simone how far she thought I would get. Her answer: to the finish.
So last Saturday, I put my money where my mouth is. I started at the subway station Hoek van Holland Haven (2 additional kilometers) and just started running. The weather was not special, the beach quite empty. I ran to the horizon, focus on infinity.