Plant a Tree

A conversation with Claire Maxted of Wild Ginger Running


Claire Maxted is the co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine. She now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail and ultra running training advice and inspiration, including athlete and expert interviews, gear tests and Q&As. Her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k (out 21 Jan 2021) Claire is an award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites. Claire also hosts talks, speaks and presents at book launches, awards, events and races.

What’s your proudest or happiest moment as a runner?

I was very proud of myself for running the 100 mile coastal path around the Isle of Man in 6 days in July 2019, as I couldn’t manage the 8-day Cape Wrath Ultra the year before. I designed myself an achievable challenge and had a lovely time running it with all the super friendly people there. I went via boat and train rather than plane and car to be more eco-friendly.

Where is your favourite place to run and why?

I like variety more than one place over another, so anywhere new and exciting, through woodlands and beside lakes especially, and in the mountains. Trails that are rocky and technical are my faves too! I love to explore the world through trail running, but I haven’t been on a plane since Feb 2019 as I now feel too guilty about the carbon.

How concerned are you about the climate crisis?

I am extremely concerned. I watched Extinction by Sir David Attenborough and although I was always pro being eco-friendly, it terrified me so much- it has doubly redoubled my efforts both with my own life and passing on a good example to others. My aim is to be enthusiastic and positive about what we can do, and treat it as a joy to act in more eco-friendly ways. I don’t agree with the Extinction Rebellion blockades for example as this just irritates the general public and turns them off the cause. I believe we all have our part to play in making sure significant changes come from government and big business. I’ll be working on that once I get myself as eco as I can be first.

What impact have your concerns about the climate crisis had on your lifestyle?

I am now trying to make my life as eco-friendly as possible. I have started a page on my website to chart my eco-progress. I am trying to do everything I can now to reduce my impact/plastic/carbon etc. and I hope the webpage will help other people do the same. I’m currently researching bank accounts and pensions as I was horrified to discover that my bank lends to companies involved with chopping down the Amazon rainforest – I don’t want any part in that.

Do you think the running world is doing enough about it?

I can’t speak for the running world at large as there is possibly more of an element of fast fashion and sweat shop production with the larger more mainstream brands, but in the trail running world with the outdoor-loving brands I see many of them taking environmental protection and sustainability extremely seriously. I have started to include an eco/ethics section for each brand I review in my gear tests now, and if I can’t find enough info I contact the PR and ask them if they can pass the message on that this is a priority for me and my audience. There is always more that can be done and I aim to make being eco-friendly a priority for brands, retailers and consumers by promoting this in my reviews and own way of life. Here’s an example of this in my latest waterproof jackets review.

What appeals to you about Trees Not Tees?

I really like the idea of people being able to plant a tree rather than have a t-shirt or medal that they may not want. I like the choice as well – some people will love a tee and/or medal and really treasure both items forever, or make the tee into a race tee patchwork blanket and hang the medals as decorations, which is great.

I like that it’s an option and that Trees Not Tees as a company isn’t eco-bashing and critical of anyone who does want the physical product.

– Claire Maxted, Wild Ginger Running

It’s a great idea to make it very easy for race organisers to add this to their entries through SiEntries too.

Running-wise, who inspires or motivates you?

Lately, I’ve been very inspired by Damian Hall who ran his Pennine Way FKT plastic-free and carbon neutral. He and his team also picked up all the litter on the route. I was more impressed by this action than his record. FKT records are inspirational but selfish endeavours really, so using them to promote this way of living is much more worthy of praise. His effort actually inspired me to sign up to a monthly carbon offset as I was about to crew for Sabrina Verjee on her Pennine Way FKT in a huge motorhome that my mum insisted on hiring so she could have a loo! I chose Wren on the recommendation of Jim Mann, co-founder of Trees not Tees who also very much inspires me in his commitment to this type of work. Since posting about this decision I’ve realised there is a great deal of skepticism about the trustworthiness of carbon off-setting companies so I’d like to see more from Wren in the future too as I’d never heard of them before.

What’s next for you?

A baby! Sorry it’s not very eco-friendly but we will bring it up to be a good eco-friendly human that will be an asset rather than a drain on society! And I have a book coming out pretty much the same time, 21 Jan 2021 called The Ultimate Trail Running Handbook. It has eco tips throughout and a double page on how to be more eco-friendly as a trail runner. And I’ll be continuing on my eco-friendly journey and telling as many people as possible all the ways they can help too.

Pre-order your copy of Claire’s Book!