A multiday race in Australia in the iconic Simpson desert well that certainly needed to go on the list of must do’s….but what I didn’t think was it would happen so quickly. Col mentioned to me he would come out of Ultra running retirement to do the Big Red Run, as this was his opportunity to do a stage race in Australia so of course I couldn’t say no to that …could I…
I had not long finished Badwater Salton Sea so it was back into training and sorting out gear and food for the event. This event unlike the other stage races we had done meant we didn’t need to carry all our gear and food for the whole 6 days we only needed to carry what was mandatory on the day. The rest of our gear was then taken by trucks to the next camp site. There was a weight limit to that gear of 14kilo but that didn’t worry us as we were use to travelling very light anyway.
Well the journey started when we took a flight to Adelaide to catch the bus to Birdsville it would take us two days to get there with a stopover at Marree.
We met at the bus terminal in Adelaide were we all boarded the mini bus to take the long long journey to Birdsville.
All I can say it was some journey and we had plenty of time to get to know each other. It certainly was an experience in itself and we all soon were laughing and telling tales …well more some of us than others.
Travelling through Outback Australia and meeting some very unique characters in some of the towns/pubs made the travel even more interesting.
Arriving at Birdsville was just as I pictured it and it was great to finally be off that bus.
We met other competitors, had our briefing about the race/safety and weighed in our bags. We were all getting very anxious to start in two days time.
One last triple check of all the gear checked it in and we were ready all congregating around the start line at the Birdsville pub. A sea of blue and orange tops …the countdown …we were off….. awesome.
Col and I had decided to run this stage on our own and each day we would see how we were both going and if need be we would stay together.
It was a great day, as the sun woke up, the warm rays hit my skin and the chill from the morning was soon gone……..I reminded myself I was running in the Simpson desert …ohh arhhh exciting…and the scenery was fabulous. I went in and out of check points grabbed some water and kept going I felt great and getting into camp there were high fives as I crossed the finish line.
I knew Col would be chatting and singing out there and just taking it all in I was excited for him and was ready to cheer him on through the finish line…..and in he came with Amy a first time stage race competitor who was also a diabetic……they were pumped day one done and dusted… woot hoo…
Well the days cruised on Col had a good day followed by a not so good day but then back on track with another good day… that is what happens the days can be full of emotional highs and lows as physically you get exhausted and it breaks away all sorts of layers on you… without a doubt you learn a lot about yourself and many times you tell yourself you are never doing anything like this again…but all that goes away when you have that finishes medal put around your neck.
Day three I had a fall down a sand dune ….a bit of a twist of the ankle but just laughed it off, brushed myself down yep all was good and of I ran. By the time I got to camp the ankle was sore so strapped it up so it was good to go the next day…can’t fuse out here as mentally that does your head in and before you know it your leg is going to drop off….well that’s what your mind tells you anyway.
The long stage was upon us I was excited as I always enjoyed the long stages feel like it is a real test after doing 4 days already three of marathon distance and the fourth 31km. The long stage was just over 84km’s and an earlier start at 6am in the dark and cold of the early morning.
Col and I were good to go for tomorrow for the long stage both of us had spent time around different competitors out running each day and we already had so many wonderful friendships formed. Everyone was looking out for one another and helping each and everyone get to the finish line each day.
The morning came around quickly and in the dark with headlight torches and safely vest we were off.
I ran at the front with a few of the boys which I had pretty much done most of the other stages. Wayne, Phill, Dan and myself had pretty much ran varies stages together and it had swapped around for the places on and off for each stage.
Over sand dunes we went, across Gibble planes and through sinking dried up mud planes still soft and with each step in you sunk…..Running over the gibble planes was a challenge in itself and its red beauty was intense and at times all you could see was this red rock for kms and kms…..
WHACK I was down………. I had tripped twisting my ankle the same one I had done days before…….it was not good I could feel my eyes welling up …I was in trouble I knew. I stagged into the next check point and just wanted to keep moving before it seized up altogether. Nothing more than stupidity and probable fatigue had made me fall but I was now at my lowest point….for me the challenge was only just starting for this race….did I pull out or keep going…. I couldn’t let Col down I had to finish I would crawl in if I had to I needed to regroup in my brain and keep going.
The next 30 km were nothing short of agonising with at times me yelling in pain and other times just sobbing and feeling like a real looser.
I don’t know how but I literally fell over the finish line and Wayne caught me and helped me limp over to the nearest chair where the wonderful medics looked after me.
I knew I had been first female and around 3rd place overall but not sure what the day had done to all the placing now….but really at that point didn’t care all I knew was Col was still out there and as long as he came across that finish line and we could finish this race together tomorrow that was all that mattered.
Then through the finish line Col came …woot hoo I was so excited tears started running down my face as I gave Col a big hug……………what a fantastic accomplishment I was just so happy for him and just so proud.
The next morning we all headed in on the last 8km into Birdsville we were all ready for showers and some nice food. What a week, so many amazing friendships, memories and spectacular outback scenery.
Col and I crossed the finish line together with BRR runners holding a guard of honour…
WOW we did it….. Col finished off the true Ozzie outback experience and had a beer to celebrate….Go boys……..And heading into the awards presentation I had no idea were I had come so was stoked when I ended up first female by about 3minutes and 4th Overall… Classic ….what a journey full of surprises….
And we were lucky enough to share a tent with Meg.. we all had our highs and lows but the best part was we were all there for each other what an experience.
It was time to leave our now family of friends who were all strangers at the start of the week….Now that is just AWESOME…. Thanks everyone until we meet again xx