Who is Find Your Feet?
You are Find Your Feet
Step by step, wherever you live, you too can find your feet. You too can sit amongst a wilder landscape thinking, ‘I want to share this vision with the world!’ Our cumulative experiences foster community, all empowered to experience our wilder self. You are Find Your Feet.
Find Your Feet had humble beginnings
It was 2009 when Find Your Feet started. Hanny Allston had returned to Tasmania after years away racing at the elitist level in orienteering, delving into the marathon, and studying & working abroad. Whilst she had loved travelling, when Hanny returned home to Hobart she was simply trying to find her feet.
Running was something that had helped Hanny through many life-changing moments. So when she saw athletes pounding the road up Mt Wellington in pursuit of the summit on the Point to Pinnacle race day, she had an ‘Aha’ moment. Find Your Feet was born.
“On day one I had one ‘athlete' participate in my newly established Find Your Feet adult running groups. I didn’t yet know Heather at all but earlier that morning I had tapped her on the shoulder whilst we were both out jogging on the Pipeline Track. I literally begged her to come along that night. I refused to accept her $5 admittance fee and together we headed out for a jog. She is now finding her feet as a massage therapist and a wilderness photographer - that is pretty cool!”
Become wilder to Find Your Feet
We found a common fear of wilder spaces amongst our earliest Find Your Feet participants. Whilst we were all relatively comfortable running amok in the parks of Hobart, the mountains & trails felt elusive. Here Hanny continues the story -
“When we hosted our Christmas party on Maria Island off the East Coast of Tasmania I asked everyone to bring a plate to share for our evening picnic. We arrived early in the morning with our tents, packs and running shoes for two nights camping & running adventures on the Island. As we were unpacking our belongings one young adult brought up his tub of Sara Lee Icecream to contribute to the picnic. It was one of those moments when I realised just how much I loved helping people to find their wilder self.”
As we all continued to grow wilder & braver, we found challenges to finding our feet, both intrinsic and extrinsic in nature. It was during this growth phase of 2010 that Hanny began offering life coaching and branched into private athlete mentoring for athletes across Australia.
“To be honest I don’t really know if you ever truly find your feet. I think the art of finding your feet is actually in the process of striving and enjoying every moment as it is. When we get too far behind ourselves or too far in front of ourselves, and become too trapped by the urban environments… this is when we seem to lose our stability & playfulness.”
Everyone is trying to find their feet
In 2011, Hanny was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic & Paralympic Games. Living alongside the aspiring athletes in residence, her role was to be a mentor, mother, taxi driver and general support to their personal journeys.
“Irrespective of their achievements, abilities or disabilities, I could see that they were all still real people with fears, excitements & vulnerabilities. In other words, they were exactly the same as all the individuals I had come to know so well through Find Your Feet. Realising this was another of these ‘Aha’ moments - I desperately wanted to share these lessons, as well as my own elite athletic experiences, with anyone who would listen.”
Sharing elite knowledge & experiences became a huge ethos for Find Your Feet. We wanted all individuals of any athletic ability or demographic to have access to the same knowledge & support as the elitist athletes. From humble beginnings in the bushland of Canberra, Find Your Feet’s trail running camps & coaching spread to the Lake Crackenback Resort and The North Face 100 (now the Ultra Trail Australia) as the official coaching provider.
“We were doing everything on a budget, trying to keep the costs down as much as possible so that everyone had the opportunity to participate. On our first camp in the Blue Mountains it just endlessly poured with rain. We would finish a night run with the guests, cheerily drop them back to their hotels and then head back to our sopping wet tent.”
Playing is a craft
Those memories & acquaintances fostered even wilder adventures. In 2014 after 4 years in Canberra, we were pining for wilder Tasmania and so launched our first Gone Running Tour to Tasmania. It was really just an opportunity to travel ‘home’ with our most enthusiastic Find Your Feet’ers. Roaming the trails, dips in the oceans, watching whales from the summits of Maria Island… the focus had shifted so far away from trail running performance to showcasing trail running as a craft for exploring the world around us. We were all hooked!
“Educating athletes has become as much about ensuring they have the knowledge to stay safe and play in wild locations as it is about performance. I guess I have personally found myself on that journey and so sharing my newfound knowledge feels like a very natural progression from providing resources purely for performance. I really do see playing in wild places as a craft that needs practice & nurturing.”
Find Your Feet found a Base Camp
By late 2014 our hearts were set on returning to our beloved Tasmania so when an opportunity arose to open the Find Your Feet retail store we jumped at the chance. Graham’s lengthy experience in this industry was invaluable as we scraped together the expertise and finances required for this exciting venture. But there were difficult moments when we thought, ‘What are we doing!?’ and of wondering how all the elements of Find Your Feet would fit together - the online coaching, educational resources, Gone Running Tours, camps and now retail services. As Graham explains,
“We suddenly realised just how far we had evolved from the days of playing primary school running games in the parks of Hobart. We definitely wanted to continue supporting our athletes all over Australia. We began to fill scrapbook after scrapbook with brainstorms of how the new Hobart & online retail store fitted into our vision of empowering people. But it was out on a ‘mission’ to Mt Anne, hiking up this 1000 m incline far away from the limitations of pens, paper and technology that understanding hit - we just want to help people, wherever they live, to find their feet in a diverse way. It is really that simple. Our online & Hobart retail stores are just the Base Camp from which we can all launch from into our various adventures.”
Find Your Feet on new adventures
Not wanting to isolate communities, we still support athletes across Australia and branched out from trail running into many aspects of adventuring such as hiking, travelling and outdoor lifestyles. But we will always love trail running and the adventures it can take us on. There is just this absolute freedom of breaking into the wilder regions with a small vest pack and lighter weight shoes, knowing that you know how to fuel yourself, stay safe and remain present in the experience. We can see that more and more members of our National community are finding this freedom.
“When we first began Find Your Feet, no one carried a vest pack for their running. No one really ran in trail shoes and we saw very few individuals beyond the more urban trails. On one of our first trail running camps someone even asked, ‘What is a trail running pack?’ But now we are finding more and more people breaching into the wilder areas, confident in their abilities and equipment. And it is super exciting to have conversations, receive emails and read your stories of wild adventures here and further afield”
The tours continue to play a vital role in providing such experiences for some individuals. The international tours are certainly capturing everyone’s attention, with tours now completed in the Italian Dolomites, Chamonix in France, and two various tours to Japan.
“We try to find the world’s wilder regions. Whilst this is growing harder and harder in our increasingly global community, the Alps of Europe and the mountains of Japan still feel like sacred places. There is that ideal mix of culture, slower living, traditional foods and mountain scenery. And the trails are just majestic! Whilst our hearts want to showcase the beauty of our local environments, travelling further afield opens your eyes to new ways of living and can help us to embrace a simpler lifestyle. I especially feel like this when I return home from Japan.”
Building an empowered community
Going forward, we want to continue to build a community of empowered individuals aspiring to finding their feet. We want to deliver stories of everyday people across our nation striving for the extraordinary in all walks of life, from adventurers to wilderness photographers, and athletes to us mere mortals. Stories of people achieving beyond their preconceived limitations. We hope to do this via the launch of our Find Your Feet Podcast (coming soon!), blog, and monthly newsletters. We also hope to continue providing the education, resources and equipment to empower you in the outdoors.
Today we measure our success by the cumulative effect of all of our individual endeavours.
‘“I turned thirty this year just as wild fires ravaged the Tasmanian alpine & rainforest landscapes. Mortified by seeing 1000 year old trees burnt to charred stumps, I turned to my friend and Wilderness Photographer, Dan Broun, ‘What am I doing Dan? I try to help humanity but I don’t help our environment!’ He turned to me, placed his hand on my shoulder and gently said, ‘Han, at some point we have to realise that there are all these individuals striving for extraordinary things, and eventually we will all come together’”
I guess that summarises it. We are the individuals striving for extraordinary things. Step by step, finding our feet can make a whole, big, impactful difference… or a small one… both of which are a step in the right direction.