Jul 14, 2017
So, on to Day 4 of the Big Red Run. After three consecutive days of marathons, the fourth day offered a little respite – it was only 31 km. However, the organisers compensated for this by choosing the toughest terrain of any of the stages.
We started with 3 km along the ridge of the highest sand dune in the Simpson Desert – the famous Big Red. It’s almost 100 feet high and the sand is very uneven and soft at the top. What a struggle it was to run 3 km in those conditions. I was determined not to go too hard early and, consequently, I was back in 10th place early on. The three usual suspects, plus Sarah and Ian, were well ahead of me, along with several others.
However, at about the 5 km mark, I came upon Timmy. Currently holding down 1st place overall, he’d strained a thigh muscle the day before. Now he was stopped. After checking he was OK, I pushed on, letting Tim know I’d inform the next course official, in case he couldn’t go on. By 13 km I’d caught Sarah and Ian.
At about the 15 km mark, after some really tough and uneven countryside, we came upon a dry salt lake that looked spectacular. I stopped to take a photo, then proceeded to enjoy a flat and even run for the next mile or so. Not so!!!! The lake proved to be the hardest part of the entire six day race. The salt crust was thin and every step saw me break through and sink ankle deep in thick clay-like mud. The suction made it very hard to lift your feet out of the mud on every step. In fact, the suction caused me to lose my shoe on several occasions and I’d have to turn around, dig my shoe out of the mud, and put it back on.
I was slightly ahead of Sarah across the lake, but she caught me again just after we made it to the other side. Reaching solid ground, I started to feel more energetic, ever so slowly pulling ahead of Sarah. The final 10 km was just as difficult, with sand and thorns and animal holes and hidden rocks – and I had Sarah just behind me the whole way. We completed the stage with a final scaling of Big Red before running downhill to the finish line.
Once again, Sarah finished just a minute or so behind me, and we congratulated each other with a big hug. We finished in 3rd and 4th place respectively for the stage. Ian and my tent partner, David Barnard from South Africa, finished not long afterwards. Timmy did manage to finish, but he had now dropped down to 3rd overall. I was still in 4th place.
We were all very tired, but pleased to have all afternoon and night to recover before the following day’s big one – a double marathon of 84 km. But that’s for the next instalment.
Today’s photo from the world run is a special one – it’s from the start, just moments before I began my odyssey. Carmel, Hannah, and Grace are with me. Within minutes of this photo, I had begun to run around the world. You can see the Sydney Opera House in the background.
On This Day
Jul 14, 2012
Distance today = 57.39 km; Total distance = 9263.79 km; Location = Kenosha, Wisconsin – 42 35.353′ N, 87 49.078′ W; Start time = 0806 Finish time = 1717
I knew I had a big day in front of me, so I was up and ready for an early start. I clicked my watch to begin and headed off. The ankle wasn’t too bad, but the day got off to a disastrous start as far as technology is concerned.
You see, after what I estimated to be a few kilometres, I looked at my watch to check exactly how far I’d gone. It read zero. I stopped and tried to work out what the problem was. It turns out that none of the buttons now work. While there is a display, nothing happens when I click the button to start it. It looks like all the sweat and other environmental factors have finally taken their toll, and the watch is now dead, cactus, kaput!!! I mean it’s now about as useful as Mr Reefton Humblewood’s wedding tackle, and as effective as his cycling ability (a little “in joke” there, but you get the picture).
So, I called Carmel and arranged for her to activate the spare Garmin when she came to meet me. Luckily, the route I was taking was direct and simple, and she could easily follow my course. When she reached me, I reset the Garmin and started it again for the rest of the journey. Therefore there are two Garmin links. Ignore the average speed in the first one – the distance is correct.
I will need to get a new Garmin soon. If the spare displayed the map I could just continue to use this, but it doesn’t and I really want to provide the map, vertical profile, and speed graph facility to viewers of the web page. As soon as I can get a new one, these graphs will be back in the link.
Anyhow, as for the running, it was a mix of suburbia and semi-rural landscapes. It wasn’t the best day of running, but I was very pleased to get through my longest day in months without any issues.
Early tomorrow I will cross the state border into Illinois. That will be my 13th US state of the run so far. They will come thick and fast after that. My good friends, David and Cheryl Kerr from King Island, are donating to Oxfam per state and country I pass through, so I guess I’m not doing them any favours by visiting so many states, but I’m sure they don’t mind. It’s all for a good cause.