Growing up I often studied paths, whichever form they took. As a runner and ski racer, paths played an imperative role in competitions. Before each ski race, our team would slip the course several times, visualizing the route we would take, the cleanest line around the gates and through the finish. In cross country, we would jog the course before the race, inspecting each turn, each hill, memorizing the trail. When I moved to Manhattan, my paths became more haphazard. These everyday jaunts were nearly never planned, left to fate, instinct, or the changing of traffic lights. Once I began tracking my routes training for my first marathon, the path became a satisfying artifact of the workout I had done, the journey I had taken, the distance I had travelled.
And I knew there were other path devotees, too, with over twenty routes uploaded to the tracking app Strava every second. People love to run, and they love to share where their body alone had taken them. But I wanted to discover what a G.P.S. couldn’t: what called people to the path they ran, how they individually navigated the city at pace. Even more, I wanted to connect runners beyond the social networks, in a tactile way, with an object they could touch and carry. A rock was the most rudimental choice of baton. A rock, the first tool of man, in conjunction with a smartphone, the most modern tool of man, were the only devices necessary for the relay to take place. Inspired by the race courses, guidebooks and trail maps of my youth, I set on to create a book that chronicled the paths of six runners, and the three pound rock that connected them. These are their Earthly Pursuits.