North is based on my experience of running the 2019 North Face Endurance Challenge, an ultramarathon in the Marin Headlands surrounding San Francisco. This 51-mile trail race traveled through redwood forests, down to ocean beaches, and over numerous mountains and overlooks, all with visually stunning views with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. To put it mildly, it was a challenge for me.
One of the strategies when running long distances is to just keep moving forward. I tried to convey that in North by having a continual motor of sorts, that propels the music forward at all times. The different sections of the composition reflect some of the course sections I ran through, with varying degrees of energy, including Tennessee Valley, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, and the Dipsea Trail. The most unforgettable moment for me was towards the end when I caught a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from the mountains high above. This is reflected in the climax of North, which then sustains this energy to the end, much like when I made my way down the mountains and over the bridge with a sense of renewed energy.
I did manage to finish the race, in the dark, after a grueling twelve-plus hours (12:23:12 to be exact) on the course. I hope that North is not nearly as long and painful for the audience and performers, and instead conjures visions of traveling through beautiful and wondrous landscapes.