Amazing Nomads: Felix Weber - The Running Man

Inspired by a love of people, Felix Weber uses running as a way to travel the world with everything he owns stuffed into just one backpack.

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Amazing Nomads: Felix Weber

Alongside delivering our fortnightly World Nomads destination podcast, we now share bonus episodes featuring amazing people doing amazing things while traveling that demonstrate discovery, connection, transformation, fear and or love through travel.

Felix Weber uses running as a way to experience the world. Inspired by a love of people he travels the world with everything he owns on his back. A minimalist, who lives in the hills of Sri Lanka, Felix runs hundreds of miles each month insisting he has no need for a vehicle. However, he does dream of owning a boat, fishing and living off the land in Madagascar.

In This Episode

00:08 Welcome

01:07 What it’s like to run 24-hours straight

01:23 Mind tricks

02:43 Phil’s big comparison

03:20 Living as a minimalist

03:43 The dream life

04:41 Life in Sri Lanka

06:21 “What do I actually need for the way I am living?” – Felix

07:09 Exploring a place running

08:35 How long would it take Felix to round around the planet?

09:23 Listening to the environment

11:08 “My days are never the same” – Felix

13:08 Destinations Felix loves

15:09 The support of volunteers

16:41 Next week Felix returns

Who's On the Show

Felix Weber uses running as a way to experience the world. Inspired by a love of people he travels the world with everything he owns on his back.

Raised in Braunschweig, Germany, Felix has lived in eight countries and traveled to more than 50, going on long runs in most. Felix's love of people is his driving force.

Felix and Michelle. Photo credit: Felix Weber

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Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast bonus episode. Hear amazing nomads sharing their knowledge, stories, and experience of world travel.

Phil: Welcome to our amazing Nomads bonus episodes in which, as you've just heard, you will hear travelers not only sharing their knowledge and experience but their incredible stories.

Speaker 3: Yeah, this episode features Felix. He's a German guy that will never need to own a car fuel because he runs everywhere, literally. The main reason he does it is that it exposes him to new cultures and people, which makes him an amazing nomad.

Phil: I know. I get the same riding a bike. You can smell where you are as well, which is great. Felix has recently been in Australia and won the Adelaide 24-hour title, which saw him run laps of the university oval for 24 hours. Winning here should qualify him to run against the best 24-hour runners on the planet in Austria next year.

Speaker 3: Now, I can't imagine what it's like to run 20 minutes these days, let alone 24 hours. Before we get into what he likes about travel and running, let's find out from Felix what it's actually like to run 24 hours.

Felix: Yes, it's pretty monotonous, especially running around the Uni loop. I mean you have to have strategies on how to distract yourself from actually the running on the loop because you're just running in circles. Everything looks the same round for round, so I chatted a lot to the other participants, to the other runners, to the volunteers. Also then, at nighttime, when it got really quiet, I try to put myself in the German time and think of what the people in Germany are doing now because there it was in daylight. That helped me a lot to get through the night. Otherwise, you have so much time to think about everything. 24 hours of running is a lot longer than a normal day, I would say.

Speaker 3: Oh, it certainly is, but do you stop at all or is it 24 hours of consistent running?

Felix: The longest I stopped was probably five minutes just to give the legs a short break from the impact of running. Otherwise, I just went through the night. I didn't have any long breaks because once you stop you get cold immediately because the body doesn't have the energy anymore to actually keep the warmth. You only generate the warmth through the exercise, so that's why I didn't stop at all for longer breaks.

Phil: Nothing like 12 or 24 hours but I ...

Speaker 3: Here we go. Oh, come on.

Phil: No, but I like swimming laps sometimes, all right. When you're knocking out a K or two, it takes me a long time anyway. I like to think what you'd do if you won the lottery. How would you spend all that money?

Speaker 3: Oh, we play that game, yeah.

Phil: Yes, it's a good game, that one.

Speaker 3: Did you play winning the lottery?

Felix: I haven't, but I could imagine. I've had that question before because I live such a minimalist lifestyle. Materialistic things don't mean that much to me, so a lot of people actually ask me this question, what would you do if you win the lottery?

Speaker 3: What would you do?

Phil: What would you do?

Felix: I think I would just donate most of the money because I prefer to live on very, very little money. If I could, I would live without any money at all. My big dream is to live for maybe six months or a year without any money, growing my own vegetables, maybe building my own boat and going fishing. I would love to do that in Madagascar. Back to your question, winning the lottery, I would probably just try to make people, or get them something or get them something they always wanted, they couldn't have. Donate most of the money and, yeah, try to use the money for useful purposes rather than just spending it. Yeah, as I said, materialistic things, they don't give me anything. They stress me more than they give me joy. That's why I would probably give most of it away.

Speaker 3: Well, let's stay in touch because I've got a few things that I've always wanted.

Felix: Yes, I don't play the lottery so after that, I win the lottery, I will [inaudible 00:04:27] though.

Speaker 3: You got to have a ticket. Tell us a little bit about your life. Where are you living and how do you live it?

Felix: At the moment, I'm here in Australia, but I live in Sri Lanka now. I try to promote sport for development and peace, or in particular social cohesion there. That's basically promoting the non-competitive side of sports. I live in the hills. I have a very, very basic room with no [inaudible 00:04:56]. I have got a toilet, and then I have a shower, but otherwise, no facilities. I actually camp inside my room because I prefer to sleep on the floor. It gives me protection from the mosquitoes, and that's where I sleep the best.

Yeah, I basically like to have my life or everything I need on my back. I have always my tent with me, my sleeping bag, my sleeping mat. Then I just like to move on my two legs from A to B. That's what gives me the most joy and the most fulfilling way of living for me at the moment. I'm not saying I will live this life forever, but that's how I live at the moment.

Phil: You've done that for a while, because you visited a lot of countries and you always do it in that way, in that minimalist way.

Felix: It was a process. I always liked, when I visited places, I always like to hike and, yeah, just get to the outdoors and just explore myself. I started with a very heavy pack, like a 65-liter pack and a normal tent, a cooking stove and a bit more clothes. Probably my pack normally weighed around 20 kilos, where I got it now to 10 kilos, including some foods. I try even now to really think what do I actually need for the way I'm living, and what don't I need. Everything, which is basically just carried and ride, I try to cut it out and minimalize it.

Speaker 3: You travel around the world running these trails?

Felix: Yes, for me it's the best way to see a place because running ... Well, not only trails. I also, yeah, just run on small [inaudible 00:06:40]. In Sri Lanka, I run through a lot of villages and people are fascinated. People actually approach me because they're interested, and then they share their life or their culture or whatever they have to offer with me, rather than seeing me as a tourist and just want basically to sell me a tour or want to sell me jewelry or accessories or some souvenirs.

That's what I find fascinating by just exploring a place by running because people are fascinated by it. They don't see it every day. They approach you, rather by you having to look for what you actually want. I just take what I get from the people, and it's been such an amazing experience in basically all the countries I've been to.

Speaker 3: How many kilometers do you think you run, or miles?

Felix: It really depends. Now, in the [inaudible 00:07:32], towards the end I always average 60 kilometers. I started with 5 kilometers, but I also have easy days. When I didn't sleep that while and I'm tired and I'm at a beautiful place, I just stop and have a nap or I had a long break, a lunch break, do it really depends. Sometimes, I also, I want to get from A to B and I just run. Sometimes when I'm on the road, I just put my thumb out and try to hitchhike for a little bit.

Then people take me to different places, sometimes not even where I want to go, but they show me a new place. It really varies how many kilometers I do bureaucracy, on average, when I train or I do more than a 10 kilometers a week normally. That goes up to 250 on special occasions, like now, doing the [inaudible 00:08:22], it was up to 400 kilometers, but that's not a normal week. That's maybe once a year or so.

Speaker 3: I'm leaving you to do the maths, Phil, because I'm picturing the earth and just seeing how many times Felix has actually run around it.

Phil: Run around it, that's right, yes.

Felix: Yeah, I just looked at one of these online applications where it tells you how many Kilometers you have run a year. I think in 2018 I'm at 5,000 or 6,000 kilometers, and, yeah, we're halfway through, so I would probably make it up to maybe 10,000 kilometers. It will take me just over four years to run around the world.

Phil: But you're not just running point to point. As you say, you let people lead you off in different directions and show you things. This is your way of traveling, right?

Felix: Exactly. Someone said the other day that running, that's all Felix's life is about, and that's not how I feel. I feel that running for me is a means to a more fulfilling end. It just provides me with opportunities to meet different people, if they are outdoors, listen to the environment, listen to the birds, all that flora, and also fauna. Sometimes at night you just hear the wind blowing and that's really ... You feel so much more. It taps to nature, and you feel like you are part of it, rather than you live in a house, you're so isolated from actually your surroundings.

This gives me so much and I feel I sleep better. I'm much more relaxed. I have peace of mind that I feel I can be myself more than when I'm stuck in a city or in a house, where I just feel isolated from my surrounding.

Phil: Has that ever got you into trouble? Has anybody ever mistaken you for a vagrant or a hobo and tried to arrest you or move you on?

Felix: No, not really. I had only a couple of occasions in Sri Lanka when I pitched my tent at night just next to a small trail. They came, they tried to move me, but more because they were concerned about my security. AS they said, "There might be wild animals, they come here." Then it's amazing how generous and welcoming people that can be. They just offered me to stay at their place. Sometimes they just say, "You can camp in my backyard,” or they give me a bed.

If you put yourself out there, you're so exposed to people and, yeah, also the environment. It's just such a fascinating experience because you never know what happens. My days are never the same. When I wake up in the morning, I often don't know where I would be in the evening. Yeah, that fascinates me, but I haven't really had any big problems now.

Phil: No wild animals then. You've managed [crosstalk 00:11:20]

Felix: No. I've seen wild animals, but yeah, I love seeing them from a certain distance. I just try to leave them alone and don't distract them or disturb them. Yeah, I just keep a safe distance to them.

Speaker 3: Phil was hoping for some sort of near miss.

Phil: Yeah, I love a good near miss.

Speaker 3: Well listen, that 24 hours you did in South Australia, has that qualifies you to compete against some of the best 24-hour runners on the planet?

Felix: I think it has. Actually, I'm not 100% sure about the qualification criteria. I am in touch with the German [inaudible 00:12:00] coach, and I think it has. I'm also now 80% sure that I will do it, and then the World Championship, yeah, next year in Austria. It's more, for me, just a once in a lifetime thing. It's not that I see a big career in 24-hour running because it's really not the running I really enjoy. The preparation, now I spend a lot of time on a running track, where normally, I would prefer to spend just they are running through the mountains and through nature, rather than spending it on a running track. I will probably do it, but it will probably be the end of my 24-hour career, right.

Phil: All right, let's talk about the travel that you've done whilst running, all right. Where are some of the favorite places you've been?

Felix: I don't really like comparing places. I think every place has something special to offer. If you're open for it and you keep looking for it, you find a special thing or something nice about every place. There haven't been many places where I've been where I could imagine settling down. Cape Town, in South Africa and Hobart in Tasmania, or Tasmania in January, are probably quite special places for me because they're the only places I could imagine settling down one day. Otherwise, I love mountains, I love beaches, I love every kind of landscapes. I always try to look for the nice things about a place.

Yeah, I haven't been to any place where I would say, "I actually regret going to that place,” or that place wasn't that nice as I expected it to be. I'm always open for surprises, and yeah, I have actually always been surprised, positively surprised by any place I've been to.

Phil: I imagine the things that are most pleasing about it … I mean we're talking which place you like best, but it's probably which people did you meet that you liked best because it's the people you meet that really make travel, isn't it?

Felix: It is. I love my quiet time. I love being outdoors, but I also like, especially now, the [inaudible 00:14:12] trail was like a very good example for it. I loved the environment. It was beautiful, but what made it really special were the people accompanying me along and supporting me along, and coming out running with me, bringing me some food, and cheering me on and like keeping me going.

I feel that there is no country which has better people or worse people. I think you find great people in every place. If you're open to meeting new people then you also … Yeah, people come to you and a lot more open to share with you about their cultures, about their lives, and offer you lot more. I can't tell you that there's one place I like more than any other, but every place has been great with people their people as well.

Speaker 3: You've been great to chat too, and I know that you've been hosted by my friend, Michelle, who they call ... She's an ultra runner Phil, but they call her chat runner because of the ... What does she do?

Felix: I think she … I just didn't rest between the competitive side of running, which I did on the Uni loop for the 24 hours, and the social side, where you just enjoy it and you chat to other people. I think she just runs for the social side. She loves to chat. She loves to meet people. She just cheers everyone and, yeah, it's just been such a great time being around her and, yeah, getting her better. Now I met her only for a few days two years ago at the Tassie Training Fest and that [inaudible 00:16:01]. It's just amazing how she keeps the people going when they're tired on the trails, and they don't want to go anymore. There, she just smiles at you or joke with you, and you just, after a couple of minutes, you feel great again, and you keep going.

Speaker 3: Nicely said. Well, thanks for chatting to us.

Felix: Yes, it would be actually nice to meet you in person day.

Phil: Well just run on over mate. We're only in Sydney.

Speaker 3: It wouldn't take you that long. Absolutely, it would be lovely. It would be lovely Felix. Will you-?

Felix: Yeah, I hope to be back. Yeah, I love the Blue Mountains and, yeah, maybe I come back to Sydney one day.

Speaker 3: No, we won't see Felix in Sydney next week, but he will reappear on next week's podcast, Phil, featuring Sri Lanka, where he will, in his words, share his views on the beauty of the Island. You would've heard in that podcast that he lives in a tent there. Plus he will expand on the work that he does.

Phil: Well, it's actually time for us to run, or shuffle more likely. You can find our amazing Nomads bonus episodes alongside the World Nomads Destination Podcast on iTunes. Hey, if you know an amazing nomad, someone we should highlight and talk to, hit us up at podcast at worldnomads.com.

Speaker 1: Amazing nomads. Be inspired.

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