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- author Jackie French

Saturday 19 August 2023

Guest Post: Jared Styan on the True Story behind The Boy Who Ran Up A Volcano

In 2022, I published my first children's picture book, The Boy Who Ran Up A Volcano, which takes young readers on an exhilarating adventure while imparting valuable life lessons about bravery, travel and the joy of exploring the unknown. There is, however, a unique twist to my children’s book … it’s a true story!

In 2019, I embarked on a gigantic mission to conquer the towering volcano called El Misti in Southern Peru. I had been on a few adventures such as running up Australia’s highest mountain, trekking in the Himalayas and hiking through the jungles of Bolivia, but this was challenge unlike any other. 

To complete the challenge of running up El Misti, a 5800-metre volcano, I knew that training was key. At the time, I had no idea this adventure would become the foundation for my children’s book. 

Scaling the heights of El Misti required not only physical fitness but also mental fortitude. My training regime included summiting other mountains in the Andes region, preparing myself for the altitude and intense conditions ahead. I also ran about 100km per week, often wearing a heavy backpack to build up my muscles and physical endurance. 

On the day of the run, I was incredibly nervous but I knew I had done everything I could to prepare myself. The run ended up taking over 13 hours, but I managed to get to the summit and back safely. There were a few moments (which I go through in my picture book) where I didn’t think I'd be able to make it, but I picked myself up and continued one step at a time. It was an experience unlike any adventure I’ve embarked upon, and a memory that will stay with me for a lifetime.

During this time, to truly immerse myself in the rich culture and beauty of Peru, I spent two years living in the country as an English language teacher. I embraced the local lifestyle, explored the enchanting landscapes, and studied the Spanish language. These experiences developed a deep appreciation for Peru's unique heritage, which I wove into the fabric of my book. 

The Boy Who Ran Up A Volcano is not just a tale of physical endurance and conquering mountains. It is a story that teaches young readers about being brave and embracing new experiences. I believe my own journey serves as a powerful example of stepping out of one's comfort zone, embarking on thrilling adventures that broaden horizons and create lasting memories. 

I wanted my book to capture the imagination of children and inspire them to push their limits, face challenges head-on and discover the joy of exploration. The protagonist's journey up the volcano becomes a metaphor for life's obstacles, encouraging young readers to confront their fears and discover the resilience within themselves.

The Boy Who Ran Up A Volcano also offers a glimpse into the wonders of Peru and its rich culture, scenic landscapes and natural beauty. Through my tale, I hope young readers will be encouraged to seize every opportunity, conquer their fears, and create their own remarkable stories. 

Jared is an avid endurance runner, traveller, writer and fundraising professional for NGOs. His work can be found on his website and Instagram.