This was the scene that greeted the six hundred and seventy runners from 29 countries as we stepped off the buses onto Anangu land for the start of the Australian Outback Marathon.
It was a chilly wait in the cold – 6 degrees! – for the start of the 42k and 21k events at 7.45am,
but course start was right by the Field of Dreams light installation, so I took my mind off the cold by taking pictures of that as the sun rose, meaning I now have about 300 identical looking photos on my phone to edit through…
Soon enough they were off, and we had 45 minutes to recover from the excitement before the 11k and 6k event started. I hadn’t run at all since breaking my ankle badly about 3 years ago, so had registered for the 6k planning to just walk it to be part of the experience. Over the pat few days though I decided I was going to try and run it, I knew I had the cardiac fitness from my Peloton bike and it was just going to be a matter of how the ankle held up.
We all took off, and within about 300m the rest of our runners had left me in their (red) dust, but I settled in and enjoyed the run. My ankle held up, I ran the whole course, (bar a couple of very sandy inclines where I didn’t want to risk an ankle roll), snapped a few selfies along the way,
Floyd from the Big River Hawks ran his first ever half marathon in a cracking time of 1hr45, Eric ran his 11k in a PB, and every member of the team just enjoying being part of such a special experience in such an incredible place.
Half the team set out in the ‘troopie’ that had carried the boys, their leaders and Stuart from Katherine to Uluru (another post still to come on that epic adventure!), to support her through the last few km, and before long had sent through some pictures showing she was in great shape and coming home strong.
A quick text notification from Stuart saying she’d reached the 41k mark saw the boys set off with the Indigenous flag to accompany her on the final leg, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in our group as she crossed the line draped in the flag, surrounded by the boys to the tunes of ‘Heiss Heiss Baby’ (or Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby as you may know it) belting from the speakers.
I’ve been part of a few marathons now with Stuart, but this one really was special. The great group of people who formed Team Epic and the sacred land on which the event was held came together to deliver something really incredible, made all the better with the knowledge that we’d raised over $20k for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (you can still donate here).
Thank you to everyone who made donations and supported Team Epic, thank you to the Outback Marathon team for putting on a fantastic event, and the biggest thanks of all to Anita, who not only initiated Team Epic’s participation and got us all organized and here for the event, but provided the absolute inspiration of completing her first marathon in such epic style!