The Legend of Trail Running
How Zelda: Breath of the Wild captures what I love about trail running.
Most people are not trail runners, many people say they are not gamers. So a blog post discussing the connection between the two seemingly disparate activities may distance some people, or it may serve to illuminate both activities.
The Legend of Zelda video game series has always been about discovery and exploration, no more so than the latest instalment The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BoTW). The same sense of discovery also comes when exploring a new trail for the first time, however in this edition of Zelda, the similarities run much deeper than that.
It hit me in my last race, the Hubert 100. Another runner and I were lost, trying to find the trail, we both had our GPS map out but it wasn’t helping as much as it should. We had to scale a steep hill to gain perspective over the landscape and find the path forward. Scaling the unsteady slope took effort but the elation finding the trail restored me. This describes a lot of what you do moment to moment in BoTW.
Of course there is the surface similarities as well, eating food for stamina, having a limited amount of inventory space, wearing and changing your clothing depending on the climate, improving your health and stamina meters, ‘character building’ and more.
Ultimately what Zelda: Breath of the Wild captures so well is the sense of discovery in nature. The pure joy of finding out what is at the top the next hill. People have criticized the stamina mechanic for not being enjoyable but for me this mirrors trail running in a sense. Sometimes running up a hill is not pleasant either, however the visa at the top make it worthwhile.
As with trail running, there are also times in BoTW where nothing much happens, the music is minimal, the enemies are few and far between. This stillness and space allows you to simply enjoy the feeling of movement, the forms of the landscape and to think about your next actions.
Much more can be said about the similarities between Zelda and other games and trail running but put simply “Joy of discovery in nature” expresses why I love both Trail Running and BoTW so much.