Pictures and words by Billy White @billywhite43
It feels like a lot of my running is dual purposed, the majority of my weekly miles come from either the daily work commute or to pick up the kids from school. Necessary ways to get in a decent weekly mileage whilst juggling full time work, a wife, two kids and a fast approaching 100-mile trail race.
But for a few weeks of the year dual purposed running is something different. Early on a couple of misty autumnal mornings every year I don an empty hydration pack and head to the forest with mushrooms on my mind.
I’ve got my spot, as do most people round here. A secret patch of forest where with a little luck there’s a bounty of glorious autumn chanterelles, black trumpets and maybe even a few ceps if I’m really lucky. It’s an off trail 20km (12 mile) loop where you’re constantly watching your footing, trying to avoid stumbling over roots and rocks. This doubles up as a perfect way of scanning the ground for some seasonal treats. The pace is slow, the mist is lifting, blue sky is visible through the trees. What better way is there to start the day?
The first mushrooms show themselves. A few black trumpets, difficult to spot a first but once your eyes have become accustomed, there is hundreds of them. I barely make a dent in the patch, just a couple of handfuls. Considering the extremely dry summer the amount of mushroom varieties I meet on the trail is a pleasant surprise. The pack slowly begins to fill up with foragers delight, after a couple of hours I start to pick up the pace I’m ready for an early lunch.
I spot many of my favourite ceps but I’m met with disappointment, as every single one is worm addled by the time I’ve found it. You need to be early to beat the worms! With barely 200 metres until I’m back to the car I see another one poking its plump head out from under a fern. It’s perfect, untouched. I quickly find another! And more still, in total six of the most perfect ceps I’ve ever seen. A very happy ending.
After a steady two & half hour run punctuated with many breaks spent on my hands and knees inspecting the forest floor I can’t think of a better lunch than yesterday’s sourdough toast, topped with a fried egg and today’s mushrooms lightly sautéed with a generous glug of good Italian olive oil, a touch of salt and a little crushed garlic.
And best of all, there is still some left for dinner.
Based out of Stockholm, chef, runner & dad Billy is currently writing his first cook book `Food for 100 miles` and runs with local groups Örnsberg runners and Team Nordic Trail.
profile photo by @patrikengstromphotography