As I spent more time with her, what Laura would continually joke was a tendency to overshare actually seemed to be a remarkable ability to connect with people. A habit of creating friendships from crossing paths with people that for most would just be a transient interaction. She had just returned from running 1200+ miles from Rome to London, fundraising £4500+ and counting in the process.
Over two months Laura had followed the Via Francigena, an ancient Pilgrim route running through Italy, Switzerland and France ending in England. "I'm not that sporty; cup of tea, comfy sofa and some good TV... that's me. Sofas are my thing" Perhaps not the standard tag line of an ultra runner.
It quickly seemed Laura's offer to host me initially actually came from a desire to 'pay it forward' over an interest in photos after she had been hosted by so many generous strangers during her run. But in spending the time with her Laura revealed more of her backstory, including how meeting Danny Bent as he founded Project Awesome turned the sofa habit to 1 mile runs to 6 miles to 1200+.
So we settled on me joining a morning Project Awesome session (free group fitness workouts in various locations within London) with a camera instead of trainers to document a stupidly early 'morning in the life of' Laura.
I had already encountered and got involved in Project Awesome during other trades. It all may appear a little daft on first glance. But as I was enabled to scratch a little further below the surface, I saw that for some it seemed to provide a great deal of support and community while going through or having been through great change/challenge in their lives be it positive change, negative, personal, professional, voluntary or thrust upon them. Even as Danny himself put it to me - what it's really about hasn't got that much to do with exercise at all.
Not to say there weren't some there who just love running around, high fives and bright colours that much.
Second, Laura put on her best unicorn leggings to get some shots of her running in Richmond park. She also had wanted photos of the scar on her stomach for a while. The result of a condition that threatened her life and disrupted her law studies and consequent career significantly, but also a scar she didn't wanted 'fixed' having accepted it as part of her history that she wanted to share, for better and for worse.
A unique trade as I found myself hosted by Laura mid transition from life 'living near the surface' during run - as she put it - to adjusting to normality again and sharing stories of her experience.
Half of which easily turn into a hilarious stand up comedy act as she took to the stage at Project Awesome social I later attended.
Richmond & The Scoop, London
Nomadic photographer travelling the world without money by trading photography for my essential living needs.