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This month, we interview local trail running legend & adventurous dad, Matt Judd, to find out how he balances life, fitness, fatherhood & adventure on a day-to-day basis. Here's what he had to say;
W.E- Matt, please introduce the team. Who are they, how old, are what are each of them like?
Van - 7. He’s the thinking one. He’s cautious at first until he’s confident he can do something, then he’s all in.
Tesse - 4. She’s the stubborn one. Does what she wants, when she wants. She’s either super fun or a handful, and there’s no in between.
Sylvie - 1.5. She falls somewhere in the middle of the other two. She is hilarious now, but I can’t help but feel like she’s going to be the one we have to watch as she gets older.
W.E- What's more nerve-racking, lining up at the start line for an ultra running race, or heading into the delivery room one more time?
Having a baby in itself doesn’t scare me at all - I loved every minute of the birth stuff. But the idea of having 4 kids terrifies me - let me line up at the start line of an ultra every day of the week over that!
W.E- How have your kids made you a better person?
I’ve certainly learnt to be more patient and flexible with my plans (and my wife would probably say that the learning process is still ongoing!). They’ve also helped me in terms of expressing emotion to those I care about - I am by no means an emotionally expressive guy, but I’m getting better at telling my loved ones I love them every so often.
W.E- How do you encourage your kids to get out there with you & enjoy the great outdoors?
I’m all about setting a positive example. My wife and I try and do the same outdoors things that we did pre-kids, and our hope is that by them seeing us having fun outside they’ll grow to chase those same vibes. They’re also regularly around either the events I organise, or events I participate in, and they get a kick out of that environment too.
W.E- With all the things you have achieved in your life & all the adventures you have been on, are there any that you wouldn't encourage your kids to do? If so why not?
I’m not big on telling people not to do stuff - so probably not. The only caveat to that is that if they want to do something that is potentially dangerous, then they need to make sure they learn the necessary skills and be trained up so that the risks are minimised. There’s a great discussion with Alex Honnold about the difference between severe consequences and high risk - and all you can do is prepare yourself to minimise the risk. After that, what will be, will be. (Video: https://vimeo.com/84716329)
W.E- Where did your passion for adventure come from & what influences did you have growing up? What one piece of advice would you give your kids to encourage them to pursue their passion?
I was a team sports guy growing up, probably because that’s what Dad and Mum did and it was the first active pursuit I got into. Dad played rugby league (for the Roosters, but I try not to hold that against him), but I was too small for league so I spent all my childhood playing the real football (soccer). Aside from that, we went on mini-adventures all the time as a family - I grew up in northern NSW and most weekends were spent exploring somewhere outdoors nearby.
The main advice I’ll pass on to my kids is that nothing is ever set in stone, and no decision they make is forever. So I’ll encourage them to do whatever it is that lights their fire at a given time, keep that fire stoked for as long as they want/need it, then light a new one.
W.E- You travel with your young family a lot, what are your three top tips for travelling with young kids?
1. Don’t try and do too much. We made the mistake early on of trying to see everything in a new place; this works fine if you’re solo or a couple, but it’s too much with kids. Pick your battles and just enjoy being in a new place, rather than trying to tick off all the touristy stuff.
2. Allow more time than you think you’ll need - inevitably someone will do something that requires a costume change, bathroom break, or a double-back to collect a forgotten item.
3. Always have food supplies, and lots of them.
W.E- What does being a father mean to you?
To me, being a father is all about making your family feel safe and loved - I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that. If my kids grow up feeling positive and secure within themselves then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job.
Our goal as a family is to maximise the time we spend enjoying experiences, rather than working hard now to save for ‘later’. We still work hard when we need to, but we’d rather prepare the kids for later life through adventure and travel while they’re young and impressionable. If we can teach them to try things and learn from experience, then we’re giving them the best shot at living their best lives.
Thanks for taking the time for a chat with us and opening up about your fatherhood experiences Matt, we think you're doing a fantastic job of it.
One last thing, we know a hug and a hand made card always goes down well but Wild Earth has some pretty awesome gift ideas too, what's your pick this Father's day?