I have arrived in Adelaide following my overnight flight from Johannesburg and a short stopover in Perth.
It’s great to be finally in Australia, and with just four days to go before the start of the Big Red Run, I’m both excited and slightly nervous about the challenge that lies ahead.
I will meet a number of the other runners for the first time tomorrow morning when we start a two-day bus trip to Birdsville, where the race starts on Saturday morning. Birdsville is located in the centre of Australia, far from anywhere, and a logistical challenge just to get there.
I have no doubt that every aspect of the Big Red Run will dominate the discussions on the bus. For some runners the Big Red Run will probably be their first introduction to a multi-stage desert race, while others will have a few “war” stories to share based on past experiences.
All deserts and desert races are unique. Running in extreme and unpredictable conditions test the mental and physical strengths of all runners, even elite runners, and there is no guarantees for success.
The Big Red Run is an annual 250km multi-stage race held in the Simpson Desert, a large area of dry, red sandy plain and dunes covering the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland in central Australia. It is the fourth largest Australian desert, and the world’s largest sand dune desert with the longest parallel sand dunes. They vary in height from three metres in the west to around 30 metres on the eastern side. The largest dune, Nappanerica, is 40 metres in height.
The six-day Big Red Run consists of a marathon a day for the first three days, then a short day of 30km, followed by the long day of 84km, and then a short untimed 8km run to the finish line in Birdsville on the final day.
Although I’m well-prepared, I am under no illusions that the terrain and related conditions in the Simpson Desert will be a tough challenge to overcome. But that makes these races interesting and intriguing, and often painful!
Turning to other issues, remember to support my fundraising campaign in support of communities in South Africa without access to clean drinking water. I’m using my participation in the Big Red Run to raise awareness and money – $6 250, the cost of 50 Hippo Rollers – which will be distributed through Youthzones, a youth organisation working in needy communities throughout South Africa.
Please visit my fundraising page, make a donation, and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.
The countdown to the Big Red Run continues…