Days 50, 51: I want to see Mountains again, Gandalf!

It’s been pleasant running for the past two days with nearly perfect conditions. Sunny and only light winds. The only downside is that it now drops to 42F / 6C at night so in the morning I’m slow to get up – but I guess that is no change from before! Only now I have an excuse. Beyond the conditions, it’s been a tough few days mentally and I haven’t been ‘in the zone’, perhaps due to the exertion of the prior day. But I’m still making progress and only 1 day and 26 miles to Port Augusta.

On the plus side, the scenery now has a few ‘mountains’ in it. Not much but a huge change after 2,000 flat kilometers. It now feels like I’m progressing. Ironically I passed a large mine which was flattening one of the only hills as it is made of iron ore. Typical!
Until tomorrow!

Day 49: Go Big or Go Home

Was a slow start to the day but I was feeling pretty good after a sleep not molested by mice or creepy crawlies. Was underway around 8am when shortly afterwards I was caught by the group of cyclists riding from Perth to Melboune for the START foundation. Lovely people. They gave me some Mars bars (10!) as they were sponsored by Mars, and invited me to dinner that evening in Kimba. Unfortunately I was standing next to the ‘Kimba 79km’ marker. We figured they could come and pick me up in the road etc… but as they rode away I wondered if this was the day and the time to go for it. As it was 8.30am by this point I had to run at 2 mins a mile faster than my normal pace to make it before dark, and further than I have ever gone before. But then I thought about my friends on Everest and what they are going through; perhaps it was an empathy of finding strength in hard times. I would try for them.

The weather was pretty good with no wind and I felt good. I just focused on my breathing and for once just ignored the mile markers. It was long and I barely rested, but as the sun was going down I passed the 5km to go sign. I was going to make it. I even still felt pretty good, I guess it is amazing what you can do with the right motivation. I arrived at the motel to a welcome party, 50.5 miles / 81km done. Victory!

Dinner with the team was fun, I felt like one of the family and inspired at the same time. Good for the soul. The only ‘downside’ was that the first thing I had was beer, so my head was temporarily spinning like crazy after half a pint. Guess I’m a cheap date 🙂

Day 48: Mellow…

It’s been a mellow day. I talked with one of my Everest friends this morning which helped my state of mind no end; amazing how friends can do that. I actually had to slow my pace for the few miles after that as I was cranking! I also met a group of women cycling from Perth to Melbourne which gave me some additional perspective. Nice group!


Spot the odd one out


The other highlight was the first proper bakery I have been in for 1,630km / 1,020 miles (that gives you a sense of how spread out things are here). It was good; the freshly baked whipped cream-filled apricot turnover was in fact a dream. As I wind between the fields I sense that Civilization is slowly but definitely returning to my route.
So a ‘normal’ day and another 59km /  38 miles closer to the beach.

Day 47: Tragedy

Tough day, starting when I learned of the disaster in Nepal. As many of you know I was climbing Mt Everest last year when an avalanche killed 16 people, and a number of the friends I made on that trip were back there this year and in Base Camp. One of them was killed in the avalanche this morning.

It really affected me today, perhaps more than I expected; he was one of those ‘indestructible’ types that you think can come out of anything unscathed. Maybe it was also the memories of what happened when I was there coming back and remembering all those emotions as I was hearing news from my friends who were with me there last year. I just don’t know. Either way it has been a low day of shock, contemplation and a search for a meaning where perhaps there is none. I’m sure it will take a while to come to terms with what has happened. As for my progress, ironically the weather was actually good for running today on the one day my heart just wasn’t in it.

My thoughts are with all those in Nepal and the climbing community. Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully a better one for all.


Days 43 to 46: Onward!

The two days I spent in Ceduna just flew by; I had a lot of catching up to do with the real world and that took a lot of time. The most memorable moment of the two days was actually going into the supermarket, if you can believe it. I have a good video of the excitement I was in when I walked in; I will post it to my Facebook page later. I was just amazed I could buy ALL THESE THINGS! It’s reverse culture shock I think, and a very strange feeling!

It was time to get back on the road, so you can imagine how I felt when the alarm went off at 6am and the first thing I heard was the rain and wind lashing the window. Urgh. I concocted a couple more errands to do but I was postponing the inevitable; luckily by the time I left at 9.30am the rain had temporarily passed but the wind was still very gusty. Luckily though it was partly behind me – what a novelty! The first 20 miles felt really good, a result of my extra rest day, but soon I was tired and feeling like normal. It was a day of wind, occasional rain and endless rainbows including some of the brightest I have ever seen. I even saw the actual end of one – no pot of gold though. 
Eventually I pulled into a little parking rest stop and put up the tent, fortunately before the rain came hammering down again. Sitting in my tent listening to the rain and wind while looking at the mouse running over my tent was not auspicious. I slept terribly due to the wind and the worry of the imminent mouse attack which never came, and so today has been pretty bad. It’s now a headwind again and the rain swept in to drench me every so often; the spray from the road trains kept me cold and wet all day. I was low; perhaps the lowest point on my journey so far. It just wasn’t fun in any way today. Despite a respite at the general store in the tiny town of Wirrulla to warm me a little I ended as down as I began, and as a whole new set of mice are currently investigating my tent. I only hope these don’t eat their way in. Tomorrow is another day, and my fingers are crossed for an improvement. 
Good luck to all those running the London Marathon this Sunday!!

Day 40, 41: End in Sight!

It’s been a long few days but eventually I have made it to the small town of Ceduna! Civilization at last! I must admit I’m feeling a bit of reverse culture shock after being in nowhere for so long – the first railway crossing I passed over made me smile! And the first pizza I ordered 🙂

Tough 2 days to get here. Headwind almost the whole time, and when it abated briefly the Mosquitos arrived. C’est la vie. On the evening of the first night I crawled into the village Penong, and was so happy with sleeping that I left the bar to crawl into bed. So wonderful! Before dawn I was out of the hotel and in the 24hr petrol station asking about breakfast, as the lady the previous night said they started serving before they opened. ‘Sure said the guy,’ ‘follow me,’ And took me into the kitchen. ‘What do you fancy?’ he asked and I made something up so he started the cooker and through on some bacon. Awesome!
The final day was very hard, although I had some energy from lots of snacks (which I can finally buy!) and put up a strong pace. I will even admit that the first 5 miles were enjoyable as I watched the warm glow of the sun on the surrounding fields. By the end of the day I was done though, and again crawled into town. I should have been full of excitement at having made it, but all I really felt was exhaustion and a worry about getting somewhere to sleep – it’s like I had forgotten how to deal with the real world in the last few weeks. This fear proved founded when I arrived at the main motel in town.
‘We are fully booked I’m afraid – there is a conference in town,’ I was told. Who holds a conference in a town with just 3 motels? I asked her if she wouldn’t mind calling the other 2 places to see if they had rooms to save me the 1km walk each way. Rooms available? No and no. So it was dark and I was stuck with nowhere to stay.
‘Oh, I’m an idiot,’ she suddenly remarked. ‘A guy cancelled today and I forgot to put it in the system! So we do have a room. I’ll give you a discount as well.’ Epic result. Only for one night, but a problem deferred is a problem solved, right. It was the best night’s sleep ever. So here I am, watching the sunrise over the bay as I have breakfast. Life is good!

Day 39: Highs and Lows

It was raining when I woke up in the dark in my tent; if I had wanted less motivation than yesterday morning then this would be the way! Still, I needed to finish the 47km / 29 miles to the Nundroo Roadhouse by mid afternoon to give myself a chance at reaching Ceduna in 3 days so I had no choice. As it turns out, the first 10km were nice! The rain had stopped to reveal a bit of sun peaking through the clouds and everything smelled of wet forest with a hint of eucalyptus. Good times.

The rest of the day got progressively harder as the headwind picked up and i grew tired. The last 15km were brutal, like pushing the buggy up a never-ending mountain, but I reached the roadhouse just before 3pm. It is situated just as the first fields I have seen for 1,500km began; a welcome variation! The lovely girl that worked there opened the kitchen just for me, a huge chicken schnitzel, salad and chips, plus 2 pints of chocolate milk and 10 chocolate tim tam biscuits helped matters a good deal. I was going to call it a day but I felt better – so back on the road! Despite the continuing 40kmph / 25mph headwind I felt strong to add another 15km to the day, amazing what a good lunch can do. 
The owls hooting as I fell asleep was a nice touch to end the day. A very ‘highs and lows’ day today, one to remember. But I’ve left what I think are hard but achievable targets for the next two days to reach Ceduna and civilization, now 140km / 85 miles away.

Day 38: The little things

Lazy start as I didn’t sleep well (again) and was so tired that until the sun hit the tent my motivation was zero. Still, by 8.15am I was running.

Today the hills began with a vengeance. Bring back the flat monotony! It made it tough work, but the air was cool so not too bad. At midday I consulted the food situation. Not great. For breakfast and dinner I had just about enough but my prior day’s undisciplined binge on biscuits has left me low on snacks. But in the usual Australian way, 10 more mins of running and a guy drove past in his truck, and then turned it around to come back and say hello. ‘Hey I thought you might like these apples,’ he said and gave me a couple out of the window. ‘I’ll only have to chuck them at quarantine anyway.’ Nice guy, and problem solved!
Camping last night was similarly fortuitous. My tent was up and my stove was lit when it started to rain. And then then the stove broke. A bit of fixing in the rain and I got it working again just long enough for the pasta to (mostly) cook before it died again. Without it I would have gone hungry. Luckily i don’t need it again until after I reach town in a few days – where I can fix it. Better to be lucky than good, right!
This journey sure makes me remember to appreciate the little things. 

Day 37: Dingo Bingo!

Woke up early and it was raining. Urgh there went my motivation for an early start. I spent plenty of time in bed and getting breakfast and by about 10am I was ready to roll as the rain had somewhat abated.


The scenery continued as before, utterly flat nothingness on all sides to the horizon. After about 15km I looked up and saw something about 100 yards away at the roadside start moving away into the desert. It was a Dingo! I got probably 50 yards away at the closest point, clear enough to see it; I know it was a do go because it looked just like the cuddly toy dingoes on the roadhouse souvenir stands. Despite the overcast sky’s and drizzle I was now a happy man. Even better, a few km further on I saw another one! This was was a whiter color but unmistakable; can you see it in the picture?
Before long I spotted trees, and then as if by magic some rolling hills started and forests began again. I had crossed the heart of the Nullarbor plain an emerged on the other side. Hurray! It was strange to be in this new scenery after flatness for so long, and indeed it felt different to before. The birds were different, even the mix of trees was slightly changed. It was as though the Nullarbor was an impenetrable barrier and NOW I had finally reached South Australia!
The rest of the day was mellow. I met a motorcycle and sidecar coming the other way, and at the camp spot I was treated to a fantastic sunset. The only oddity was laying in my tent an hearing little frogs hop on the roof of my tent. Or at least I think that’s what there were – as this is Australia I wasn’t going to take a proper look, just in case!