Runner's World (UK)

The Secret Life Of…

How Owen Delaney creates waymarked works of art

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the mapmaker. Owen Delaney charts people’s running achievemen­ts

It all started after I ran a 100-mile race

‘In February 2017, I ran the 100-mile Arc of Attrition in Cornwall, along the South West Coast Path. As you can imagine, it was a bit of an adventure, particular­ly at that time of year. I’d been doing a bit more artwork in the months leading up to the race, so I thought instead of writing something about the race I’d do an illustrati­on of it. A map is a great way of showing a journey like that, so I shared what I’d created on social media and it seemed quite popular. Then someone approached me to do a commission for a race they’d run, The Oner [80 miles along the Jurassic Coast] and it all stemmed from that.’

Running and drawing are my two passions

‘I studied art at school and have kept it up, on and off, throughout my life. I got into running about 15 years ago, but I had never previously combined my two passions. It just happened through chance, really.’

My style is influenced by the old greats

‘To hone down my style, I’ve researched old mapmakers and the early Ordnance Survey maps. I’ve gone as far back as Joan Blaeu, a brilliant 17th-century Dutch mapmaker. Although he was mainly an engraver, his style really resonated with me. I found it was a style that could be recreated with pen and ink, which is how I tend to work.’

People still want craftsmans­hip

‘Just as there’s been a boom in vinyl record sales, there’s still a demand for hand-drawn maps. There are a lot of products similar to what I’m doing, but they’re very automated and digital. There’s not the same craftsmans­hip. There’s a place for digital stuff, but pen and ink is my preferred method.’

It’s the next best thing to running a race

‘It’s interestin­g doing personal commission­s for people who’ve run epic races and hearing about their experience­s. It gives me exposure to races I wouldn’t otherwise have come across. And it’s cheaper than running them yourself. I get a bit of a buzz from talking to people about their races.’

‘ IT’S NICE FOR PEOPLE TO HAVE SOMETHING TO HANG ON THE WALL THAT ISN’T JUST A MEDAL’

Every commission that comes in is different

‘Some of the commission­s I get are from people who are happy for me to interpret a route as I see fit. I might just add in the date of the race and their finish time. Then there are others that are very specific and personal – I’ve done commission­s that aren’t even of a route; they’re just of an area that’s special to someone. The map I'm most proud of is probably the Monarch’s Way (map one, left) – the scale of it and the story behind it.’

Maps are a great race memento

‘Completing long-distance races is an enormous achievemen­t, so it’s nice for people to have something to hang on the wall that isn’t just a medal. Maps are great mementos – they tell a story.’

My work appears on T-shirts, too

‘Centurion Running [an ultramarat­hon organiser] asked me to create maps to go on its finisher’s T-shirts. Printing onto technical fabrics is tricky in terms of the detailing. I did one hand-drawn map that was really intricate and detailed. When we sent the digital image to the T-shirt company, they said it needed to be a bit simpler. I ended up doing those using illustrati­on software on my laptop.’

I’d like to do more overseas races

‘The races that appeal to me are the ones with interestin­g terrain – coastal routes are good. A lot of the stuff I’ve done is Uk-based, so I’d like to do more overseas. The Man v Horse Marathon would be great to illustrate, too.’

I finally have my own studio to work in

‘Until now, I’ve been doing this from the kitchen table and clearing up when the kids come home so they can have their tea. But I recently moved into a new garden studio, so I now create the maps in there.’ Check out Owen Delaney’s work: waymarked.art

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 ??  ?? 3. WENDOVER WOODS 50 ‘The first map I created for Centurion Running, and the only one of its races I’ve managed to complete and earn my own finisher’s T-shirt.’
3. WENDOVER WOODS 50 ‘The first map I created for Centurion Running, and the only one of its races I’ve managed to complete and earn my own finisher’s T-shirt.’
 ??  ?? 2. COMRADES MARATHON ‘A map to commemorat­e the awesome achievemen­t of a 10-time finisher of this 56-mile race in South Africa. This added to my own motivation to run this incredible race.’
2. COMRADES MARATHON ‘A map to commemorat­e the awesome achievemen­t of a 10-time finisher of this 56-mile race in South Africa. This added to my own motivation to run this incredible race.’
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 ??  ?? 1. THE MONARCH’S WAY ‘A joy to illustrate a journey of epic proportion­s like this one, with everything from biblical floods to wizards and pub fights.’
1. THE MONARCH’S WAY ‘A joy to illustrate a journey of epic proportion­s like this one, with everything from biblical floods to wizards and pub fights.’

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