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250 KM Ultra Marathon DONE!!! final instalment done to :-)

I have been writing this opening paragraph for near an hour and keep changing it due to the lack of goodness it serves up to the Big Red Run experience.

From the 2200 km road trip from Sydney to Birdsville one way,  the 250 km desert race then a 4000 km trip home it was more than I wished for yet I did not want it to end.

So bear with me as I give you a slightly un-compressed version of how the Big Red Run 2018 unfolded for myself my family and for my new formed friends.

4 weeks to go before race

was when I last checked in there was a heap of prep work to get old mate Freddy (our caravan) ready for the tough rigours of outback travelling as this would be our home for the next 5 weeks. Food fuel and water  had to be spot on and Freddy was given new suspension he was looking tops.

I was driving lone wolf there then family would fly in on day 2 of the race.

2 weeks to go before race

I had been training with “Team 3 am” Jason and James on the beaches and  we chomped our way through a few 15- 20 km trail runs around Eastern Sydney Maroubra Beach and a few 25 -30 km Bay runs  it was good to get out there and mix it up due to the terrain we would encounter and we even completed a few runs in the rain because you know it always rains in the desert right?

I had a few gym sessions targeting my glutes hamstrings and chicken calf muscles.

For what I was putting my body through it was going alright. Best to go in to a race underdone than overcooked and injured. Heard that once over a beer.

On my very last long run 35 km I  did have a ITB issue on my right quad above the knee it become a little sticky and locked up  and I had to work it a bit harder on the foam rollers and seek some massage therapy for 2 sessions it come pretty good but would come a knocking again on Day 2 of the desert race.

I tapered my training about 3 weeks out dropping my long runs and keeping with the shorter 10 -15  km runs and a few weight sessions at the gym with some ERG and cycling.

James and Jason powered on through   no noticeable taper they had a thing for the Coogee staircase (the stairs of death)  it is a killer workout and one I struggled with, for them they were feeling strong and wanted to keep it that way aka maniacs.

Fundraising was coming along nicely as well we had cracked $6000 dollars still coming in so thank you to all who donated!

Departure day was upon me and I had Freddy loaded along with the trusty Triton.

4 am start for the road trip and made it 2 km down the road of 2200 km the brakes on the caravan were sticking and smoke was pouring off them bugger….ahhhh……..faaaaaaar out:-) in that order !  I bee lined it  to the caravan shop and lightly slept for  4 hours till they opened, credit to them they got right on it and I was back on the road in under a a hour, so much for missing peak hour traffic it was city traffic at its best, every man woman for themselves not a place for a ute towing a caravan.

Sydney Blue Mountains  Mudgee Dubbo  Nyngan 560 km  a good days run and no problems roadside caravan stop for the night and a well earned beauty sleep.

Nyngan to Cunamulla caravan Park a cruisy 450 km.

where  I met James and his posse in their  mega Camper van  I nearly hit my first emu at the entry point to the caravan park here but some evasive driving saved the emus day.

James and I decided to go for a quick run after all the driving and when we left the camp to run into town I noticed old mate emu had met his maker and was flat out on the road feathers whispping around the departed , James said it ran out in front of him – Mega camper 1 Emu 0.

We blasted out a nice 11km run, we had 5 o clock drinks on the river bank with all the grey nomads but did find they weren’t very chatty to us younger generation or had heard that we were involved in Emu demise so it was a early turn in and I took on the task I had been putting off for weeks packing my race bag.

14 kg into one bag for 6 days of camping eating and running. Not easy and I recommend not to do it 2 days before the race starts , it is a mind bender.

Note- Cunamulla caravan park is beautiful if you are coming through stop here.

Cunmulla to Deons look out 839KM

When I travel alone I get a bit of fever (actually when I travel with anyone) and I can not wait to hit the road my body clock was saying get up so I got dressed  at 4am filled the thermos with hot tea dropped the lid on Freddy  and hit the road.The stars were at their best it was pure outback magic you have to drive to the conditions and I plodded along around 60 kph, it is the small things in life that make one feel good, I had my  window down ,hoody on ,stars blazing down on me hot cuppa tea and munching on a bag of vege chips in the outback on my way to complete a crazy desert race love it! Followed by an awesome sunrise around 6 am.

I rolled into Windorah (651km) around 3 pm and was going to lob at the local caravan park but I really wanted to camp out in the true desert so fuelled up and pointed the ship to a place called Deons Lookout a further 188 km on on the Windorah Birdsville track  so would take me roughly 3 hrs more.

Deons Lookout is truly an amazing camping spot and  in my top 3 of camping spots of all time.

The lookout is a memorial for young man  Deon Brook from Birdsville who died not far from the lookout in a chopper crash,  back in my previous posts I talked about the legend adventurist Jenna Brooks who ran 4500 km around OZ,  Deon was Jenna’s older bro.

Made me think about my younger bro Mike who died not so long ago and how important quality time is with family and friends and just crack on with life.

I had the place to myself and took some kick ass pictures. One for the man cave when we move to Batemans Bay in a few years time.

Deons lookout to Birdsville 200km

After a windy nite on top of the lookout I had a bit of fever again and got up early and was keen to hit the track, unfortunate for me the fridge had not switched off automatically as it should and drained the Triton battery flat.

I had an emergency jump starter pack but it was not enough to kick it over to start.

So I walked  1km down the hill to the track and waited for 2 hrs for the first car to come along.  I was cold and I dressed accordingly beanie, hoodie  mostly all in black, I wave them down and they look a little startled seeing someone in the middle of the road waving like a lost relative they drop the window an  inch and  I tell them I am  having car troubles, long story short they drive off and I wait for another 1hr .

2nd car pulls up towing a camper trailer wind the window at least 2 inches this time 🙂 and state my case, no problem says the driver jump on the runners of the ute and we will sort it out! Turns out Dave and his family are running in the Big Red Run as well and all is good ! just as well as it starts to rain.

They get me on my way and we all head into Birdsville to check in to race control. Yee ha! thank you so much Dave and family !

Birdsville Im in the house!

Race Check in Day before start

14 kg bag check depending on who out of the 4 inspectors you got it was an easy process or rubber glove inspection , quickly lined up at the lovely lady who was smiling and laughing and looked a little relaxed she was a competitors mum , Jac attack ,world renowned supporter of the events and super stoked to be there for her daughter and the competitors.

Briefings for afternoon covering snake bites , blister prevention, medical emergency’s and hydration course safety and what to do if you are lost . 😩

Wet the night before and misty morning to start the day
Day 142.195 km 
Had been wet leading up to the start ,raining in the desert ??? Wtf, misty morning for the 1st time in 4 years the locals pointed out it was cold 8degs.
Slept well and had all my gear ready to go not that nervous I’ve got this but that was about to change once I made it to the start chute .


Fark me what am I doing here ,I can’t do this what if I hurt myself on day one, look at all these athletes a quick pic from the offical photographer and 1 min countdown ,feeling sick now thought of everyone who was supporting me and then started filming start feeling better horn goes off and we’re off can’t stop now.
1 lap of town in 3 min and we are out in the desert ,first sand dune of many to come.
I’m running with  Team 3 am Jason and James   and we are  near BOP (back of pack) and cruising , Jason is doing his best Sherpa impression and getting a sore back from all  the weight in his running vest he is carrying and we stop to move the weight around.

We stop to tape up a few hotspots before they turn into blisters but the terrain is relentless on the feet and I have two nasty ones on my big toes 30km in , first blisters in many years of running.
Dam didn’t expect blisters this quick. And my ITB on  knee is jabbing a little pain saying hello.

We cross our first gibber plain rocks of all shapes and sizes and you can’t help but not kick them and they friggin hurt . They go for kilometres and they’re all different some spongy under foot some rock hard  it’s bizarre and beautiful and you hate them at the same time.

The sand dunes are amazing big small short fat they are all there soft sand hard sand different colours to Im loving it ,and so are the rest of the crew. We stop to take a lot of photos and check  our hot spots and time gets away on us.

We roll into Camp and the finish chute about 7 hours  we are spent but feeling good and ready to stretch out and eat , hello home for the next 5 days.

Time to meet and greet the rest of runners and see where we sit in the pecking order of fastest to slowest but things don’t work that way here , everyone is so nice and tables are shared and war stories told.

The last runners  are coming off Big Red dune and we all go to clap  and cheer them over the line, Steve who threw his back out at the 12 km and in immense pain had dragged himself around the desert all day leaning like the tower Pisa , it’s an emotional finish for all and the first of many moments for me .
How are my eyes going to cope with 6 days of this roller coaster.

This was the virgin table all 1st timers and we had some good chats , left to right  Hardy from WA 60yr old , Ben from Cairns  Type 1 runner, Fox from Bathurst  and Kelly  from Yeppoon. A great table and we bonded heartily over the next 6 days.

Day 2   42.195 km
Sleep was hard to get that night due to the cold and unfamiliar surrounds.
Tents were set up for us on arrival to camp and 3 runners to a tent.
my team mates were awesome.
Stephen Type 1 diabetic mid twenties pretty quiet and running walking hobbling with 2 stress fractures in both feet that he come into the race with, I parked my two toe blisters in my quiet box and admired his fortitude to come into a event of this magnitude with stress fractures .

2nd tent mate was David Fox 🦊 mid 30,s or Foxxy as we called him. This man was 6ft 3 and looked like a soldier of fortune , muscles on muscles solid build not your run of the mill skin and bone ultra runner.
When I entered into the tent to set up my mat to sleep on he said , “what do you want to be ?, big spoon or little spoon I looked him up and down and said”fork  please!” And we both burst out laughing this guy is my cup of tea.

Race 2 starts at 8:30 due to late sunrise around 7:30 am. Temp very mild perfect for running 20 degrees.
Breakfast starts at 6:30 they provide hot water for all our meals so most of us are on the porridge diet and back country camp meals.
We chow down on the virgin table and mix it up around the camp fire before race start with the elite runners.
Radios and safety trackers are issued to all and a quick outline on what to expect on today’s course. More or less the same as day 1 but with a 20 km section of sand moguls , cool moguls are small I think.
Horn blasts and were off again Day 2 we chuck a left outside camp and head through small shrub , Feet are feeling ok knee is good and I trip over a small dried shrub that was tougher than my foot and wham ! I’m eating dirt for my second breakfast 300 metres from the start , the runners behind pick me up, one girl calls out “bit early for a rest eh Darron “as we all have our name in our race bibs , I check hers out  Nicki . Ego dented.

Knee is feeling fine toes are ok and I pull away from James and Jason and pick up 6 places over the 5 km I guess I’m sitting around mid pack and find a guy sitting on the same pace .
We strike up a yarn  and he is Adrian from Melbourne same age and has a sore knee as well but had dropped some endo meds to keep him going, interesting I think to myself.
We kick on together for 15 km and pick up 4 more places , at the 2nd check point we grab some snakes and biscuits from the awesome volunteers and I go to run but my knee has locked up and I can’t bend it an inch try  to walk it off but nothing , I say to Adrian to go on without me but he says I’m fine I’ll hang with ya.
.I hobble a km and the knee comes back online a little I’m jogging ok  now and the knee is is a little better.
Adrian asks if I want endo I’ve never had it before and ask what are the side effects. May make you sleepy he says but will help with knee pain hmmmmm I’ll have a think I said.

We hit the sand moguls again and  they’re not the best  on my bung knee but as long  as I keep moving it’s all good, another  checkpoint again and I do laps around it like some demented person and get Adrian to refill my soft flasks for my running vest , the volunteers entice  me in with a seat and snakes and chips but I can’t stop otherwise the lock up in my knee will happen .
We hit the last 18km and we are doing ok no one has over taken since the 20 km mark so  I make the decision  to drop an endo and boy does it work within 10 min my knee has fully released and Adrian and I are bombing down the sand dunes like 6yr olds laughing our heads off. We roll into the finish in the top 15 , boom ! high five and off to get the lastest blisters looked at along with knee.

The flys are in town and giving us grief. Nice time  of 5 hr :15 min. Happy days.

Day 3 42.195km

Cool crisp morning and another beautiful day in the desert awaits us, there is such a great atmosphere and buzz  around the camp something I’ve never felt before in a race I think when you have a mob of like minded people moving in one direction offering support and guidance it creates a community that one feels part of.

Greg founder of BRR set us off for the day and we hang a hard right and up to Big Red  for the first of mannnnnny sand dunes .

Adrian and I hang for a good part of the first 20 km along with the cheeky young lady Nic P from Sydney we shoot the breeze in between chewing flies and navigating the low line dunes and shrubs it’s hard going and we catch a few crew in front and I push on a bit and find myself lone wolf on the track and in a good grove.

I keep up the chips snakes and fluids along with the odd protein bar and overtake a couple of runners in the mogul sections. I am actually feeling pretty good the knee is fine and I have a bit left in the tank to see out the last 10 km which is traversing the tops of the sand dune closest to camp which is around 200 km long.

My family await me at the finish line and it gives me a huge lift to see them there  my youngest son Angus runs out and gives me a giant hug and I barrel down into the finish chute ready to hang with the family.

Another great day in the dunes and a handy time of 5 hr 18 min. 14 th for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 Sprint Day  30 km

Now they say the sprint day is the easiest but there are no easy days on this BRR  jaunt, this is the day you go for broke or  you sit back and take it easy for Day 5 the 84km ultra.

It was a mixed bag of running terrain, the usual monster sand dunes , sand moguls a few farm tracks but todays special was a salt flat that was like running on marshmallows that stuck to your shoe it was character building at its finest.

I was able to tuck in behind one of the top ten runners for most of the day and it helped that I didn’t have to navigate through the moguls Paul was dragging me along and he has a pretty good singing voice to boot. I had pushed all day to stay with him and on the last 4 kms and biggest dunes of the day I was running on empty Paul being the champ stopped and said “come on we will finish this together” but my mind and body had nothing so I told him to go on. Angus my son was waiting on the final sand dune of the day and run down again with me to the finish line which was super.

I gave my all that day and was super proud to finish 10th in a time of  3hr 42 min . I slept well that night and was pretty happy with my race so far.

 

Day 5 84.0 km Ultra Marathon

The beginning of the end sort of.

There was definitely a palatable feeling of excitement and a touch of dread in the air when we awoke at 5 am for the  84 km Ultra Marathon Day ,  I awoke from the sound of nearby tent zippers and phone alarms  and as I I poked  my head out the tent runners were ghosting to the portaloos the hot water tent and crowding around the crackling fire in a bid to warm their butts  from the desert icy kiss.

 

Outside the tent I see that I have left most of my running gear outside instead of  inside the tent and dread donning on my socks shorts and shirt that is slightly frozen, not the start I wanted.

I bang in some breakfast of oats and instant mash with 3 cups of tea and we all discuss the “day ahead”  before you know it we are off  in the dark with our headlamps ,84km here I come ready or not.

I start with a slow jog  and it feels alright for the first 2km then I slowly fade into a fast walk then a walk then I stop as I need to pee I let a few people pass as there was nowhere to hide business done I get back into the jog for  100 meters then slow then walk again, my knee and ITB are jabbing and I limp a little to reduce the pain. I pass the first check point around 7 km in and notice  its taken over an hour.

7 KM

I have some hot spots forming on my left heel because of my walking and limping and the old blisters on my toes are also flaring up again. The toe blisters don’t hurt to much but dam that heel is stabbing , Ill stop at the next aid station and see if they can work some magic.

Sunrise is upon me and I shuffle up to the top of a dune and take in the immense surrounds big sky big land big sun and moon I feel the need to get on with the race but deep down know that today will be a get to the end day, another couple of runners over take me and I’m content with just being on top the dune taking it all in.

I head off towards the second check point which is around  12 kms away my fast walking style looks like I’m a man on a mission but have only just learnt to walk with something hiding in my shorts awkward at best, as I come around a bend in between sand dunes I come across fellow runner  Kelly C  along the sandy twin track who is struggling with a knee issue as well and in true Big Red Run tradition we team up and scheme on how best to tackle the last 70km as a team.

21km

The second aid station comes up pretty quick at the 21 km mark as Kelly and I trade food stories and we talk beer and smoothies.

At the aid station I have the new heel blister drained and covered and the big toe blister is also drained and recovered we top on sugar and fluids and we are up and walking as fast as one can. Still  feeling pretty good mentally  we crack on to the next aid station which is 18 km away.

The wind has kicked in now and we are traversing a lot of sand dunes for kms on end it is hard yards the tops of the dunes are mostly wind blown sand and are really soft, you have to keep an eye out for the navigation points to.

The wind picks up even harder and  it is blowing  head on for the last 10 kms  into the aid station. Time for music head down and grind it out Kelly and I are side by side stride for stride.

32km

Check point 3  and the family are there waiting for us and they get to see the feet in their deteriorating state. I have a bit of a moment and break down but the family give me a lift and Kelly and I trundle off towards Check point 4 we are now on the Gibbers plains and the heat and wind makes for ideal conditions to really test us. I feel the heat and sucks out what drive I had there is a dead cow and I lay down beside it.

Another blister and and another checkpoint No 4 thank goodness one becomes really reliant on these Oasis and they are manned by the best volunteers.

The layers of fortitude are slowly peeling back and Kelly and I do our best  plodding along,  every 15 minutes or so we check our 6 to see if any one is coming up behind us to overtake and sure enough we have a tail. We crank on the power but to no avail we are over taken by Chrissy and she has a  spring in her step and we lose sight of her after a km good on ya Chrissy !

60km

TheOasis checkpoint  Checkpoint 5

Yes we made it to check point 5 ! Bag drop, hot food, medical staff galore welcoming faces, Coca Cola, hot noodles it is a smorgasbord of delight!

We catch up on the the latest on who remains who is leading and more importantly how far have we got to go !!! There is a roaring fire and the sun is setting what a place to leave but Kelly and I are determined to finish and have no one overtake so we reluctantly leave the Oasis on a Gibber Plain and head for checkpoint 6, as we leave there are runners off in the distance and they have the pedal to them metal and are only a km or two away.

 

The sun is slowly setting and our pace remains consistent the sunset gets a little wild and throws off some brilliant reds blues and orange streaks we have broken the back of this day and are nearly on the home straight…..well not quite.

Check point 7 here we come its pictch black and the stars are slowly making there way out Kelly and I  navigate under a fence then we get a little lost in a channel, no problem  we see the green led flashing lights to the left of us  that are every 1km and try to navigate towards them no pink flags so we are off course a l but heading in the right direction.

We eventually roll into check point 7 and are questioned on how did we come from  that direction we you should of come in from this direction oooops  we got lost and followed the LEDs and here we are, all good we sit down to take a break, then thinking we had only 7 km to go we are told no it is 12 km, cue dropped face stunned silence a few tears and a lot of soul searching, the final layers have been peeled back there is no more fortitude no smiles no she’ll be right mate, just silence and tears hitting the gibber stone.

You might be thinking 5 km is 5 km no biggy but it is when you have been pushing mentally and physically for 13 hours,Checkpoint Oasis told us there is only 17 km to go and they told a lot of runners that as well.

So Kelly and I  drag our broken spirits and asses out the tent and try to get our heads around the next 12 km in the dark we have to get through.

Lets crank some music I say to Kelly and I play the only album I have it has  7 songs and is sung by the Little River band, I’m not sure how it come to be on my play list but beggars cant be choosers.

We crank out the first of the 7 songs   ” Hang on Help is on its way ” and we crack a little half smile it ends and we curse the person telling us porky pies about how many kms were left  at checkpoint Oasis and Lonesome loser kicks in , how fitting.

We trundle on for 2 hrs over salt lake flats more gibber plains and  sand dunes and some farm tracks we pass the last marshall around a fire place and he states 5 km to go.

Finish Line 84 km

then in the distance we see it lit up like a nite club in the desert the Finish line laser lights and flashing LEDS  it looks around 5 km away, at about 200 m out from the finish Kelly and I stop and before we are mobbed by the crew, we high five and hug it out , we bloody did it we got here. We jog into the finish chute (I think we jog lol ) and everyone is there to meet and greet us 15 hrs 32 minutes and 43 seconds. Hello family yes I would love a hot chocolate.

DAY 6  8km untimed

I slept around the camp fire last night it was pretty cool I had a few runners come out during the night and we chewed the fat as they warmed themselves around the fire, I was pretty amped from the day and slept lightly and I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and the thought of a cold beer and the finish line plus a shower ,after 6 days of dodging the soap  and running 242 km you kind of get used to it …sounds gross and it is but we all smell the same just varying degrees in stinkyness.

We line up for photo start and then we are off across the desert to Birdsville and the end. I struggle to fit my feet in my shoes and resort to cut the backs out like slippers, it works really well and Adrian and I limp away into town, about 200 meters out my boy meets me with an awesome sign he has made and gives me a big hug.

Adrian and I cross and we receive our finishers medal and a cold beer , I had actually visualised this moment on many of my early long training runs and strength sessions in the gym it was crazy to be living it and I necked the beer and kissed the medal in that order to 🙂

250 km done and dusted the ridiculous sense of achievement is intoxicating and addictive, the smiles from everyone and the hugs and kisses are epic , the final runner makes her way over towards the finish line we make a guard of honour and cheer in over the line Ruth has dug super deep to finish and sums up perfectly what this run is about, heart soul and sense of comradeship.

Big Red Run 2018 tick.

After the ecstasy comes the laundry 

I had been warned by a few of the crew on the run to be aware of the crash after the event, lucky for me my family and I had planned for a 4 week outback explore from Birdsville and yes it was amazing. My feet were slowly healing and within 10 days I could wear runners again , we were in Coober Peedy and I took an early morning run around Coober then a few days later around the big rock Uluru.And a few more random little towns.

3 more weeks with the family on the road visiting amazing outback towns and camping along the way in Freddy.

As we trundled back into Sydney with traffic and people and traffic lights and more people I could feel the slide back into normality starting to creep up on me. My return to work was great I have a fantastic job with a great team, but after work and doing the normal family stuff I was missing the wide open spaces and and my fellow competitors and the need to be working towards a goal. I was in a funk and knowing I was is half the battle won I talked to a few crew about it and my bro in law Doug said I should read this book called After the Ecstasy comes the laundry, and to be fair I had to do a few loads to catch up on to wash this funk out.

What makes this event is the people and the people and the people.

I met so many inspiring amazing giving focused  people, I could fill another 3 pages of this blog talking about them  I have made life long friends with these people and I am stoked we got to share in such a epic event. Thank you all

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Most of all Big ups to my family for allowing me to undertake such an event glad I could share it with you. And thank you to all who donated their hard earned to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sydney Marathon 19th September 2018

Fantastic weather fantastic race , absolute pleasure to hit the course with my brother in law Dougy for his first ever marathon and he crushed it bog time ! 4hr 15 min . I was holding him up and he was a man on a mission . The course takes you around all the sites of the inner city and harbour areas and we are planning on hitting it up again in 2019 with a cousin of ours for his 1st marathon .

 

I had a pretty relaxed run and crossed the finish line in a respectable 4 hr :37 min and I was really happy with that time and will probably push a little harder next year as I had ran the Big Red Run this year and did not train a lot for this marathon.  We had all the family run this year from 3.5km to 10km and we all had a great afternoon at the Opera House bar bench racing and taking in the serene view in the brilliant sun. If your thinking of entering a race of any distance for fun or for sheep stations Sydney Running festival in September is a must do.

 2015   2018 still run with my thumb up 🙂

 

 

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Update #4 and 4 weeks to go

Whats new ? Where have I been ? What am I doing ? Want to donate?  Well a fair bit has happened since my  last update from the Canberra Ultra marathon ,we have nearly $5000 dollars in donations I am super pumped about that as are all the family. All down to you out there showing the love, thank you all.

Team RunFroRun currently sit on top of the leader board for funds raised, but I am  sure there will be a final flurry of activity in the next 4 weeks as people ramp up their fundraising campaign and have a crack at the leader board which will be great.

Training has been relentless but the end is now within sight. Praise be to whoever it is. Two more weeks of back to back long runs some hill work a bit of sand  then a nice two week taper to iron out any little niggles which I have one at the moment nothing major just a tight hammy from not stretching after a long run, that will teach me to be in a rush and not stretch out.

Sprinkled in are some gym sessions to mix things up and and even more exciting I had my first foot massage.

Once you start with massages you cant stop so I have been holding off till I really really  needed to go they all add up cost wise and it was pretty good. They will see my frog toes a lot over the next 4 weeks.

We have had our caravan (Freddy) in to the workshop to get it in tip top condition for the 5000 km round trip, new suspension and brakes and  bearings and I’ve built in a new bed for the youngest one

, he is really excited about this trip and keen to surf the sand dunes in the Simpson desert and meet all the flies out there.

I randomly  met two  Big Red Run runners Jason and James at 5am in the morning on a training run twice in different parts of Sydney,  James was sporting the BRR tshirt all athletes receive and will run in , two days later I was returning back from a run and spotted Jason wearing his BBR shirt, how cool is that top blokes and we train at very similar times.

Our house has been battling the flu and cold season lately and so far  I have managed to avoid the lurgy bug for now, as your not allowed to run the race with a virus I’ll be doing my best to stay out of the sneeze zones.

Millie turned 13 at the start of this month she had a very nice birthday dinner and ordered a banana split as big as her head , it was pretty impressive, oh to be 13 again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angus and Max have been asking to do park runs with me so that is a good result as a dad, lead by example and this is what happens, active kids and of one them is a teenager who loves sleeping in on Saturdays so getting up at 7 am to run at 8 am is great..

The FRO is coming along in leaps and bounds, it tends to live under my hat most of the times because it is unruly at best, it will look pretty impressive out there in the desert when in full flight.

That’s it for this update, Ill keep them short and sweet which will allow me to keep the updates more frequent,Millie and I are keen to do a little video as well, please keep following me on my socials and please spread the good word on the Big Red Run and you can “donate here” to help a fantastic cause in helping to find a cure for Type1 Diabetes, thank you to all who have donated.

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Update # 3 Canberra Ultra Marathon race report

What a feeling it was to cross the finish line for the 2018  Canberra Ultra Marathon on a cold and super windy Autumn day.

hahahaha I made it!

 

The early morning starts over the past  12 months in training  has really paid dividends and I felt as good as one can when you run 50km cant feel your face or fingers  into 40 kph head winds and a chill factor of what felt like -8 deg.

 

There were  a few “moments” on course with the lead pack (100+ runners) running the wrong way and having to double back over 2 kilometre at the 9km mark.

I was doing what I do best and sea gulling near the rear of the pack  fine tuning my signature move of  “you run in front of me and take all the head wind  please”  with the last 20 or 30  runners when we noticed the main pack head off in a different direction  at first I thought they might be the marathoners who were on a different start time.

Then word spread quickly amongst us non elite that we were actually leading the race I quickly took a mental picture and banked it as this would be the only time in my life I would lead a Official Ultra Marathon,  except for that one time when I pushed my way to the start line with the pro runners in 2015 and sprinted the first 30 meters before they reeled me in.

When the chase pack finally caught us 2 km later they were fairly cranky and rightly so,  I think there  must of been some ultra running  female sailors in that group I have not heard words used like that since forever, and you all thought running was boring. lol.

Anyway Im jumping the gun back to the start.

START

The start line and finish line are probably the most exciting parts for me as a runner  and if you could get away with not doing the the middle bit I think a lot more people would take up running.

Old Parliament House start line

There was a palpable buzz in the darkness as 230 ultra runners  lined up outside Old Parliament House for the start it was freezing cold and the rain was like the NBN sometimes on sometimes off.

I got chatting to Lorraine a lady from Cairns who was crazy nervous because she was qualifying for Comrades or a similar race and had to finish under 6 hrs to make it in.

I said do not worry if I see her out the back Ill give her a kick up the bum and a rev up,she must of did great because I did not see her all race or she took me for real.

The pack was unusually compacted at the start huddled in a bit to keep warm like the penguins on Happy Feet, the gun went off and we were on our way into the darkness.

 5km in my Steggle calfs were tightening up, great I’m thinking  I have not had calf  issues over the last 12 months so this was a worry.

In hindsight I should of worn skins on my pins to keep them warm but I didn’t bring them so I backed off the throttle a little and played it safe.  7 km  Front runners take wrong turn. We lead for a little while. 10 km phone call from family nice to chat they’re in bed snug and warm ,start feeling good calf’s have warmed up.

20km I see Wonder Woman in full uniform and powering up about 100m in front of me.

 

Wonder Woman on the burst,dodgy pic .:-)

I  try to keep pace with her but her powers are to strong and I fade and run by myself for the next 10km.  On with the headphones and get in a groove and take in the vista.

I’m into my food of crushed Salt and Vinegar chips , 2 energy balls and some liquids, I’m like a running supermarket I’ve got it all , I reckon running and eating  should be a Olympic sport it’s multi tasking at its best and if you get it wrong all manner of things can happen.

wohooo 20km marker

22km is where our course meets up with the marathoners and half marathoners on the back end of their race, you will be hard pressed to find a more inspiring group of runners than the back half of these groups, people of all ages, abilities shapes, sizes, running styles waking styles,shuffles, and costumes each of them on their own personal mission, I love it.

Im feeling ok and still have a bit left in the tank and push up on a long gradual 2 km incline and pick up a few spots.

The van of doom looking for cut off time victims

37km in  I see Wonder Woman again and she’s walking this time but has a poncho on, super powers drained by the cold I think , I pass by and give her the thumbs up, she cracks out a half  grimace, perhaps she’s injured or missing batman.

39 km I then come across  a sister duo who are completing their 1st marathon and are having a great old time chatting and laughing and asking questions about the ultra, they’re from Manly and are running for their best  friend who had just passed away a week before at age 40 yrs from bowel cancer I instantly think of mum and a legend called Jenna Brooks.

Jenna Brooks is young lass from Birdsville who is running from Tasmania to Cape York a distance of 45000 km’s  for Bowel cancer awareness you can find her page here RUNNING FOR BUMS , get yours checked it could save your life.

40km I hook up with a marathon pacer (pacer is someone who runs to finish in a designated time you run with them and they get you to the finish line bang on that time.) who  doesn’t have any runners to pace so we chat , we talk running and he runs with a lady who has done the Big Red Run wishes me luck then has to drop back as he had crept up his pace to keep on pace time.

44km  I can smell the finish but still a good 40 minutes to go everything is sore now but is still in working condition I resist the urge put the pedal down and finish fast.

I do sneak a few more places as I pass a couple of injured and spent front runners. The crowd cheering us on is starting to thicken up a bit and the old “your nearly there” starts ringing in my ears.

50km The last 500 meters and I’m into the finish chute, music pumping ,cow bells mooing, and people cheering.

10 meters to go I start my Leyton Hewitt fist pump as I come up to cross the finish line, the MC belts out my name on the loud speaker and I start chuckling to myself as he gets my surname wrong, I’m cold spent and feeling pretty sore but I’m chuffed , 5hr 36 min is the time I’m happy with under 6 hrs

Selfie !

I hunt for my medal at the end of the chute and old mate presents me with a kick ass bit of running bling, Canberra do awesome running medals and  I get a selfie with  old mate and he laughs out loud.

The official photographer stops me and asks would I like a photo with my medal,I put on the old moon face grin and feel something in my two front teeth,  black chia seeds from my protein balls great that will look awesome in the photo.

Say Chia teeth

It’s pretty cold and windy and not many people are hanging around so I make a beeline to my chariot and turn on the heater. Changed and I’m back on the Hume Highway heading for Sydney 4 hrs with a kip on the side of the road.

Canberra running festival is a great  festival, not packed and plenty to see when running,  and I think I will be back again next year, I have a mate who is keen to do the Big Red Run next year so this will be a good hit out for him for training.

Special thanks to Mary and Brian who put me up for the night in Canberra and to all the well wishes and my wife and whanau  who support me all in my endeavours.

Another step closer to the Big Red Run 9 and a bit weeks to go. Please help the cause if you havent already by spreading the word or you can donate here at the official donation page . Thank you. Click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Update # 2 Thank you! People are awesome.

ahhhh ! snake

 

People are awesome

I would like to thank all the people who have donated so far to our donation page  it really helps keep the motivation high in training knowing that people are backing you to train hard and keep on track to hit the 250 km ultra marathon in full swing.

The gang

JDRF the  arm for research into the cure of Type 1 diabetes in Australia picked up our story and ran it on their website and socials. Millie and I were pumped that we made headlines. Click here for the story  the Fro had its “thang”going on.

People have reached out and offered their support and very kind words to our cause and Millie and I are really humbled by everyone’s giving it really shows that people are very thoughtful.Total fund raised so far is $1200 and climbing,

Millie and I are working on thank you notes for each donation and Social media manager Max has been working on Insta with some new training pictures.

Who needs Red Bull I got Afro wings.

I’ve also applied to Decathlon Australia’s largest sporting store in Tempe Sydney to hold a fundraising BBQ there I think it would make a great partnership as their store is the biggest in Australia its massive you can ride skate boards and bikes in store, and they’re actually the biggest sporting retailer in the world, sausage fingers crossed for that one I really hope it comes through would be a great boost and I love my cooking.

TRAINING –

10 Big Macs burnt in calories

Jumped up another gear this past week, more distance focused with my long runs  I traded off a gym session last week for a shorter 12km run and I hit my energy threshold the previous week with back to back runs of 44 and 21km then a 10 sand run  on Sunday,

I was a totally spent Monday and Tuesday after the runs and took 2 rest days.

Coming out of Hyper drive

My long run this week was 51 km’s and it took nearly 6 ½  hours due to the nature of the terrain,coastal rock ledges, soft and hard sand,footpath and nature tracks and photo stops with rest breaks and some power walking , but overall I was really yephappy.

I backed that up Saturday with a fast (for me) half marathon sub 2 hrs, 1:57 running time I felt really good and strong from the get go so kept upping the pace and finished strong.

Grand Canyon ..not

Some days I start and get 50 meters down the road and think yep I have had enough but Saturday surprised me, could have been the dinner date waiting at home with my very supportive wife.

 

This is how last week panned out.

Mon- Rest

Tue – Rest

Wed 12km progressive run

Thur- Gym

Fri 51km long

Sat- 21km

Sun 15km bike

 

I have some new running gear, Gaiters. Gaiters are super important as they keep out the sand and debris from entering your shoes which can cause blisters, they are from South Africa and cost around $55 bucks includes postage.

Do these Gaiter make my feet look big??

AR GAITERS  have great communication, and proven Big Red Run results and they are a small home based outfit which I like. Check em out www.argaiters.co.za  Elizabeth will hook you up with some stylish gaiters for you.

Finger socks weird but work well.

Injini toe socks are finger socks for runners, they stop your toes blistering by keep them separated they are super weird at first but after a few hours in them you get use to the feeling, kind of like a mankini.

I went the thin sports sock but next time I will get the original which is slightly thicker . At $17-$22 a pair they are not cheap but blisters are not fun and this is good insurance.

No tassels on this vest. Nathan Air Vest if there is room man will fill it.

And last of all I have a new running vest to carry all my food fluids and gear whilst out training and racing for this season.

There are a heap of vests on the market and prices  range from $ 100 -$400 I went with Nathan Air vest in Nathan grey and yellow looks the goods and cost $ 175.00  will report back on how it went.

Millie has been doing some great thank you notes and artwork for all those who donate.

It does take a little time but everyone will get one.

We will create a page here on runfrorun and call it “The Great Wall of Awesome” .

PS:

If you check out our donation page you will see two different donor names Acacia and Belinda I have never met them but that did not mean anything to them as we  had a common denominator in Type 1 .

Acacia is 3 yrs old and been pumping insulin since she was 21 months old, and Belinda has two family members who are Type 1.

Millie and I wanted to say a special thank you to them, change wont wait for some other person or some other time we are the ones that make the change.

People are awesome.

 

 

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Update # 1 “It just got a whole lot real.”

We are officially one week old since launching the RunFroRun campaign for the Big Red Run 2018 to help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes in children. (Click on green links above to donate if you have not already and get some Big Red Run action)

The awesome Jude H was our first batter up and she hit our fund within the hour of launching  and as of  today we have raised near on  $700.00 dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund JDRF  , yeah ha what an awesome start!

A massive “Thank you”to all who have given so far and please know that it means the world to us all. Our target of $10,000 is looking on track.

Over the past week I’ve also been dialling up my inner social media mojo with the help of my oldest son Max,his fingers are Usain Bolt fast and I have been asking for a lot of “can you show me that again please maybe just a little slower.”

It’s great to have the whole family in on the campaign doing various jobs in support of Millie and  myself, a meaningful family project.

 

FRO Update

The FRO has slowly taken over my head, trying to contain it under a cap for my job  is bordering on ridiculous status. I look like cross between Crusty the clown  Ronald McDonald and Sideshow Bob, during my last trail run the humidity had it boofing (made up word) up nicely, it is a great conversation piece as people ask “whats going on with the hair man?” I spill the beans about the campaign and hopefully they  become a supporter or understand the fight better in curing Type 1 diabetes.

Morning Hair Maximum Loft

 

Training 

Training intensity has lifted substantially over the past 2 weeks the 3am starts have moved to 2:30am as I need to squeeze a half marathon run in before work at 5am once a week.

I’m not a fan of rushing my warm ups as they’re the best defence in staying injury free, so the key is preparation.

Long run love. 44.5 km

Before bed make sure all my gear is ready right down to laces undone and runners fully open to step in too,work gear is packed in my bag in order that I put in on after a shower.

The days food and hydration is in a bag in the fridge ready to rip out and and the biggest one the keys to my car are where they should be, how many of us have lost 10 -20 minutes looking for keys? sound familiar ,that would destroy my morning and my Garmin heart rate monitor would go into melt down mode.

My training for the Canberra 50km Ultra in 6 weeks and the BRR 250 km 12 weeks later looked  a little like this last week.

 

Mon – Gym, squats ,dead lifts, kettle bell work, box jumps, band work,stretching.

Tue –  Run 15 km  Threshold  run.

Wed-  Gym,  Single leg workouts,squats , arm and chest free weights( light),core work outs.

Thur –   Half marathon run.

Fri  – Easy run   10-12km.

Sat – Long run   30 km – 45km some sand running.

Sun  10-12 km easy run on sand.

There are variations during the weekday with hill work outs and fartlek run 🙂  (dont laugh it is a word) and I try to throw in a trail run every fortnight that I love but hard to get the time away.

I do a heap of spike foam rolling and stretching every night whilst dodging my incoming  6 yr old who thinks it rock and roll wrestling time, and it is paying  dividends especially with the back to back runs.

 

I am a big fan of the online run gurus TRE or  The Run Experience they’re my virtual coach and the best bang for buck I have spent in regards to improving my running form ,staying injury free and becoming stronger at running.

Notice I didn’t say faster that  is because I’m not fast at all, I’ve tried fast before and the pressure of the clock sucks the fun out of running for me. Im actually a little slower in times than before but finish in better shape so I can back up the next day and the next.

Check out TRE ,Nate and the team do a heap of free stuff  online, video tutorials write ups and info sessions and it is all about staying injury free and getting out there. Have a dodgy knee ?  they have a heap of stuff on creaky old knees and possible solutions to fix it.

P.S

My youngest son  aka the rooster  busted me at the front door early on Sunday morning  as I was sneaking out for  my run, and  he was super keen to come along :-).

I just wanted to do a quick sand run  get home and chillax, but thought the better and took him along as he fist pumped the air out the door with me.

As a lone wolf runner it was great to have him along and I forget the eyes of a 6 yr old see things completely different  ,walking and running and stopping to explore the crab holes the dead jelly fish the washed up plastic and the mermaid stuck in the net, it was a swift upper cut that reminded me to stop and not run past everything in a blinkered state. 

We  made it home after 10km in the wind and rain and he duly went to bed at 9.30 am for his first day sleep in 2 years. Way to go son a marathon effort for a 6yr old .

Please follow my socials #runfrorun on instagram and twitter  and if you want some Big Red Run action and want to help find a cure for the kids with Type 1 diabetes you can be awesome here at this link.

Keep on rolling !

 

 

 

 

 

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BIG RED RUN June 26th 2018

RunFroRun It’s alive !
Click this link  it  will take you to our donation page  where you can help a great cause.
Kia Ora ! G’day , pull up a pew and check out what the heck is the Big Red Run and why I am running 250 km through the desert and what’s with FRO.

And yes you read right a sock shredding 250 km.

Big Red Run or BRR for short is a 250 kilometre multi day ultra marathon through Australia’s largest and nastiest desert the Simpson.

And it’s all about raising much needed funds to find a cure for kids with Type 1 Diabetes.

Click this link  it  will take you to our donation page  where you can help a great cause.

Millie our daughter was diagnosed Type 1 at age 6 .

Mille’s determination, drive and ability to just get on with it is what I’ll be using out in the Simpson when it gets tough and we need your support because without you it doesn’t work.

Now about to turn 13 Millie has for the  last 7 years managed her diabetes mostly on her own including injecting and testing  herself daily from 6 years old,a tough cookie and a big heart. She is a huge animal lover and we think she is destined to open an animal shelter or be a veterinarian.

 

Millie and her younger brothers thumb!

Start and Finish Line 134 yr old Birdsville Hotel

The Fro is my fun point of difference and I’m fairly sure that I’ll be the only competitor running through the sand dunes with my own natural shade, as the training and race date grows closer the Fro will grow as well. I probably should of gone with a mullet but RunMulletRun does not flow as nice as RunFroRun.

Fro February growth (6 months)

Big Red Run starts and finishes in Birdsville ,Outback Queensland, Australia.

The iconic town of Birdsville population 140 sits on the edge of  the great Simpson desert the Simpson boasts the longest parallel sand dunes in the world , just what you want when you’re going to run through 250km of it.

The Simpson is also home to the worlds most deadliest snakes and all runners are required to carry snake bite kits.

Worlds longest sand dunes, my calves love this picture.

BRR starts and finishes outside the 134 yr old Birdsville Hotel and at the end  you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be searching  for a beer come the finish of the race let me tell you, Ill even consider downing XXXX beer if that is all they have…well maybe.

No Stopping zone. Photo Iancorless.com

Ok this is how the fun fun fun in the sun sun sun is going to roll out.

A marathon is a distance of 42,2 km

A ultra marathon is any distance over 42,2 km

The 6 day shoe shredding 250 km spectacle rolls like this

 

Last one to pub buys 1st round , outta my way!

Day 1 Marathon 42,2 km

Day 2 Marathon 42,2 km

Day 3 Marathon 42,2 km

Day 4  “Sprint” 30,0 km

Day 5  Ultra Marathon the big daddy 84,0 km

Day 6   7,0 km crawl hobble  or roll to the finish line at the Birdsville Hotel

 

Legend Greg Donovan  is the founder of the Big Red Run. His youngest son Steve was diagnosed Type 1  and Greg Donovan and his amazing team at Big Red Run events are super passionate to find a cure.

Greg Donovan (founder BRR) and his son Steve

You can read more about the  great events and the foundation he has set up  that provide vital funding in the search for a  cure for Type 1 diabetes here.

 

Steve is planning to run this years race and I hope to see him out there on the gruelling course.

Base Camp 6 days – No showers, can you smell something? Photo : Iancorless.com

Camp – No showers for 6 days.

The BRR team since 2014 have raised over $900,000 and this years run in 2018 with your help and my blood sweat and tears (all guaranteed) hope to smash the 1 million dollar mark.

Every single dollar donated from you will go directly to the JDRF  Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.

All entrants pay all their own expenses including transport to and from Birdsville and all associated  entrance fees which for a 6 day event starts to add up.

There are also the amazing army of volunteers who are the heart beat of this event and without it would never get off the ground or sand.

So rest assured every donation you give is going directly to the JDRF to find a cure for  Type 1 diabetes in kids just like Millie.

And by donating now we will send you a personal thank you message from out in the training trenches where the hurt is real and to show you our thanks, and that we are thinking of you as much as you’re thinking of us.

Click this link  it  will take you to our donation page  where you can help a great cause.

Millie massive animal lover

Please follow my runfrorun socials for the latest updates  on Instagram and Twitter (links on top right of this page) keep me honest in my training ask questions pay out offer ideas for fundraising , I will try my hardest to post updates daily as the training is 7 days a week and has been since the New Year, family work and life still rumbles along. Thanks everyone.

 

 

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Canberra Ultra 16th April 2018

9

I’m  training the house down for my return to the 2018 Canberra Ultra Marathon.
Click this link  it  will take you to our donation page  where you can help a great cause.
The 50 km course is slightly different this year and I will be using this for a shake down checking my  strategies,food and nutrition for the Big Red Run 9 weeks after the  Canberra Ultra.

 

The Canberra Ultra marathon has very long straights which is better than long uphills but the straights mess with your head because there seems to be no end in sight. But this is just what I need for the BRR. I hope to be meeting up with a runner who has signed up for Big Red Run 2018 and we can share war stories on our training program and tell each other that all will be fine 🙂 it’s only Australia’s toughest race.

 

 

I love this picture from the 2016 Ultra in Canberra it was shot  near the finish chute and I had ran out of food and gels about an hour before, I was spent.

My oldest son Max and daughter Millie met me with 400 meters to go. My son said to me in his best dad voice “come on dad  you can go faster than this.” lol !The things kids say.

 

And please check out the sprint finish from my youngest son who smoked me on the finish line ,do not blink or you will miss him.