The virtuous visions of the Norwegian ultrarunner, Creative Director of ROA Hiking

“The ultra running perspectives are valuable. I run for these perspectives. Some are personal, some are about society and the world around us. When I run I focus on short-term goals, but I also reflect on life and work…. The beauty of this sport is that it allows you to continuously process thoughts and ideas. During my workouts I have time to refine concepts and projects: running on Sundays or every morning for a few hours is much more useful than being in front of the computer for a whole day, where you have to answer emails and constantly stress test. In general at this time of life I feel connected to the concept of essentialism: I think real quality is produced by the removal of distractions and ancillary information. And running is perfectly associated with this vision.”

The essentialism theorized by Patrick Stangbye is a personal philosophical doctrine; it is a melting pot of contemporary arts, aesthetic attention, ecological sensibility and pure running. Creative Director of ROA Hiking and ultra runner, the various interests of this multidisciplinary creative strategist are lines that converge and contaminate, turning into relevant athletic performances and projects that combine consciousness with innovation. The path of this Scandinavian mind seems to be a trajectory devoid of stasis and barriers that, today, after a long apprenticeship around mountains and showrooms throughout Europe, tends toward the future of running and its communication.

I grew up on the outskirts of Oslo, only a road separated me from the woods. Nature was my playground, I loved interacting with its elements. MTB bred my creativity, to freeride I would build obstacles and jumps, it felt like playing with a big LEGO set…. Then in winter everything became perfect for snowboarding. At the same time I was very connected to music, and this passion opened the doors of fashion to me wide. So many artists dressed specific brands, capable of determining a specific identity. I understood that fashion was not just opulence, so I educated myself by researching on the Internet, IG did not exist at the time, and I started working for a retail store when I was 16. After a short time I moved to Paris, where I studied and worked for a contemporary luxury store, and at 25 I decided to become a freelance professional. Along this maturation I encountered trail running. I was preparing for a marathon, and during training I realized that I preferred running in contact with nature. I had never seen myself as an endurance sports person, but I experienced the approach to trail running as a challenge and loved every second of that epiphany. I discovered the sport late, it is true, but I quickly realized that it was connected to the feelings and experiences of my childhood. Through trail running I met a community and some really interesting human beings, and it was also through contact with them that I laid the ideological foundation for my current work.”

Patrick Stangbye’s current work focuses on developing visions that start with the simple complexity of running to explore and define virtuous marketing. The simple complexity of a community that can speak as much in the singular as in the plural. The simple complexity of a community that needs real stories and examples, but also ideals and tangible goals, such as environmental sustainability. The simple complexity of a community that Patrick Stangbye has had the opportunity to study and assimilate in all its forms. From Norwegian mountain villages to Milanese asphalt. From high-altitude toil to metropolitan trends. For lurking here, at the intersection of culture and product, is the quest of this Norwegian creative.

I like to communicate for and with people whose sensibilities are close to mine. And in the running community I have found exactly this type of human being. It is not an elitist community. Although it’s still a sport dominated by white upper middle class, I feel it’s deeply evolving. When I started running, so many people could not feel part of this universe. I was a white male and never had this problem. Now fortunately the perception of running has changed and is continuing to change, anyone can be a runner, and more and more people understand the benefit of an active life. It is necessary for brands to have a narrative focused on substance, on true stories, and for their products to respect what is being communicated. ROA for example is not a sport brand, but a cultural brand, connected to the mountains and the relationship between nature and man: for me it is crucial to develop this concept and educate people about it. The new generations have realized that the excess of luxury has stopped being as desirable as before, the health of the people and planet are instead crucial topics, which have created a different mindset in those around us. I am no longer fascinated by what is not sustainable, and I think it is very important that ROA is also following this direction, focusing on circularity and environmental impact from both a communication and production perspective. I hope that brands can stop being harmful to the environment. It’s a utopian dream, but I’m sure it can come true with the creation of the right ecosystem in which competition between companies takes a back seat, leaving room for cooperation for the greater good.”

This creative wanderer, inspired by the attitude of iconic ultrarunners such as Anton Krupicka, divides tracks and reflections between wild Norwegian peaks, such as the fairy-tale Slogen, and the sublime alpine range, where he prepares future races over 100 kilometers or more. When talking about his mountain experiences, Patrick Stangbye often uses the word enrichment. An enrichment complementary to the urban one, developed in his second home of Milan, a city that allows the essentialism of this creative strategist to encompass magmatic vibes and inspirations, destined for the development of new, layered perspectives.

“I love mountain places, they allow me to meet local people and communities, capable of conveying both cultural notions and valuable technical guidance on shoes and equipment. However, I could not live only at high altitude, because the city gives me extremely important impulses. Art, music, fashion… For me everything is connected, everything is happening, and it is essential to see a certain exhibition or film, to eat in a certain place, and to meet people with a mindset rooted in the contemporary. In the mountains, the risk is to be isolated and miss out on a vast array of information. I am sure of one thing, though, I would be very happy if people started to have more comfort in their urban lives through ‘uncomfortable’ experiences in the mountains. My next experience will be a race in Switzerland in September; I am not training to win, I am training to do well and feel good. That, after all, is what I love to do.”