“Silence” Film: How Ultrarunner Adam Campbell Made Room for Silence

If you’re reading this blog, this new film will resonate. In Silence, the filmmakers at Duct Tape Then Beer explore why it’s important to escape the chains of urban life to find your own peace in the outdoors, whatever that means to you. And they paint an exceptionally beautiful image of life beyond the boundaries of the routine. Without a single word spoken.

The film features Adam Campbell, a Vancouver-based ultrarunner who has lived on both sides. Adam gave up practicing law to pursue his dream—ultramarathons in the mountains. “I decided to take a risk and pursue my passion as my career. It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” says Campbell.  He also holds the world record for the fastest marathon in a business suit. Read on. 

Adventure: Do you think there’s something a little wrong with our mainstream culture today in which we have to be reminded to value and seek silence?

Adam Campbell: Most definitely—as I was telling someone the other day—it’s especially interesting as an athlete. We are surrounded by noise in the city and that noise often drowns out our ability to really listen to what our bodies are telling us. It also disconnects us from the places that we’re running in. At those times, running is a form of escapism for me, but it isn’t always relaxing. The noise and bustle of a city often make my running feel tense and forced and I often feel like I’m trying to run away from it all.

One of my greatest pleasures in running are those times when I’m not trying to run away, but rather, when I’m fully immersed in the moment.I usually find those moments when I’m running high in the mountains when all I can hear are my footsteps on the trail, my breath and the sounds of nature around me. During these runs, I feel most in tune with my body and the places I’m running, making the act effortless and highly meditative. That quiet effort brings incredible inner peace and gives me a deep appreciation of the places I’m moving through. I wish more people would give themselves that time for deep reflection, both inwards and outwards, the world would be a better place for it.

A: Tell us about your world record for running in non-typical running attire. Is the fun of it worth the discomfort of totally uncomfortable running clothing?

A.C.: I have a world record for running the fastest marathon in a business suit. I ran 2:35:53 at the Victoria Marathon last October in beautiful British Columbia.

What’s funny about that, is that I did it only a couple days before shooting Silence with Fitz & Duct Tape Then Beer. They knew nothing about it, so it made the shoot that much more appropriate.

To answer your question more specifically, it was one of the more fun running experiences I’ve had. I actually had a lot of local press before the run, so a lot of runners in the race had seen pictures in the newspapers and on local TV. Being from Victoria, I had a lot of local support. I pretty much gave high fives the entire marathon and got a lot of energy and support form the crowd. The quirkiness of seeing someone running fast in a suit over a marathon really seemed to strike a chord with people. I was also doing it for Access Pro Bono, a B.C. based charity that provides free legal service for people in need, so that also resonated well with people. We raised over $10,000, which also felt great.

It was a fun and unique way to experience the sport and that more than made up for the discomfort, heat, and chaffing of the attire.

A: I bet you don’t actually have an office job. Have you ever?

A.C.: I worked in a corporate law firm for a bit over a year, doing management side labor and employment law. While I enjoyed my colleagues and some of the comforts that it provided, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t the life that I wanted to live. I was having to give up too many opportunities in the running world, so I decided to take a risk and pursue my passion as my career. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

A: Are you still a practicing lawyer?

A.C.: I am currently a non-practicing member of the British Columbia Bar Association. Putting my legal career on hold, or more accurately, stepping away from it, is how I sought silence. It silenced the voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t meant to be sitting a desk and trying to bill hourly.

A: What goals are you pursuing with your running right how?

A.C.: My main focus is on trail and mountain ultramarathons. I like to describe it as a love of “suffering in beautiful places.” My next race is April 13 at the Lake Sonoma. It’s a 50 miler, and then I jump into the Skyrunning World Series, a global race series in some of the most iconic mountain settings and over some very rough and technical terrain.

More broadly, my goals are to be the best trail and mountain runner that I can be, to keep experiencing new trails, meeting great people and, hopefully, to inspire a few people along the way.

A: Where were those gorgeous sunset mountain shots at the end taken of the film?

A.C.l: Those shots were taken on Brohm Ridge, just outside of Squamish, B.C. in the “Sea to Sky” corridor. Accessing the area in the summer is interesting, since it’s about 10 to 12 kilometers (6 to 7 miles) down a rough logging road, with 1,000-meter elevation (3,000 feet) to get to it. It definitely requires a good 4WD drive car with solid clearance, but as you can tell, it’s well worth it with incredible mountain scenery and a beautiful sunset over the Coast Mountain range and Howe Sound.