Michael Wardian needs no introduction. The dude has been blowing our minds for years with a stunning display of running. Only recently I wrote an article for IRUN4ULTRA (here) about Wardian’s incredible 2016.
Well, ‘The Running Man’ has kicked off 2017 in fine style with the World Marathon Challenge. Yes, 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days.
Ask anyone, running 7-marathons back-to-back is a tough challenge but doing them with just 16-hours sleep and all at an average pace of a new world record 2:45:56 sets the mark to a whole new level The fastest marathon was in Miami where Wardian clocked 2:37:56 – he said it was a tough day!
The challenge began in Antarctica on Jan 23rd and concluded in Sydney, Australia just 7-days later. Argentina, Miami, Madrid, Morocco and Dubai filled the gap.
The previous record of 3:32:25 held by Dan Cartica was blown off the scale by Wardian who in his interview for Talk Ultra podcast discussed how tough, physically and mentally this challenge was.
The World Marathon Challenge was the brainchild of Richard Donovan (Ireland). He himself completed the challenge twice, the first time for a charity, GOAL and the 2nd time in 2012 when he lowered the elapsed record to 4-days, 22-hours and 3-minutes. The first ‘official’ challenge took place in 2015.
You can listen to a 1-hour special with Michael Wardian on Talk Ultra podcast released Friday 3rd February on this website.
Marathon des Sables celebrated 30-years in 2015. An amazing achievement. Just think about it, multi-day racing has been in existence for so many years. It’s a sign of how ultra running and the challenge of testing oneself over long distances and over multiple days is so appealing.
Racing is a word I like to use in a very casual way when I talk about ultra running. After all, only a very few runners can really race an ultra. The real story often is those who test and push themselves to see what is possible, to push a boundary, to achieve something that they thought impossible is what captivates me. Don’t get me wrong, I marvel at the front of the race but I can often feel a little removed from the supreme efforts.
Over recent years, multi-day racing has boomed due to several key factors:
It’s an opportunity to travel
It’s an opportunity to push boundaries
It may well be a once in a lifetime experience
It allows you to escape back to our primitive roots of survival and escape a material world
It affords an incredible opportunity to socialize with like minded people and create special bonds
You get memories that will last a lifetime
Imagine finding all of the above in Australia?
The Big Red Run is the brainchild of Greg Donovan, a runner who ran the 4 Deserts and then decided he needed a 5th, back home, in Oz.
Taking on the classic multi-day racing format created by Marathon des Sables, runners at the Big Red Run will travel through the Simpson Desert on mainly untracked paths but gear is transported to each night’s camp allowing you travel each day without the burden of a heavy pack.
Sleeping in tented accommodation for the entire race, the week is topped and tailed with accommodation at the Birsdville Caravan Park or Sports Hall.
Mixing sand dunes, gibber plains, salt lakes, clay flats and several station tracks, the Big Red Run is a true adventure. Camp will be near Big Red for the first 2 nights and on a gibber plain in a dune amphitheater for the next 2 nights. The final camp after the long day is on the Diamantina River just outside of Birdsville.
Covering the classic distance of 250km in 6-stages the race is a great adventure into the Australian outback. 5 marathons and a long day of 84.39km make up the total distance for the race and if that is too much, a shorter race of 150km is available; The Little Red Run.
As with any race, the after party is a key element. Here in Oz they celebrate properly with a concert. Yes, runners gain entry into the ‘Birdsville Big Red Bash Music Festival’ that coincides with the end of the race.
Attracting a global audience, the Big Red Run in 2016 is inviting past winners to rejoin the race and to increase the competition, 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes will toe the line.
Entries for this unique experience opened on the 16th September 2015 and places are limited.
I caught up with Greg Donovan, the Big Red Run race organizer in a one-to-one interview to find out about him, his history and of course the Big Red Run – Listen HERE
Elisabet Barnes needs no introduction to a worldwide or UK audience, her rise in the sport in the past 12-months has been quite incredible. Speaking about the Big Red Run she said:
“I am really excited to be taking part in the Big Red Run. It will be my first time in Australia and getting the opportunity to experience it through a multi-stage desert race is just fantastic. Greg Donovan, the race director, has extensive experience from other multi-stage races around the world and he has created a truly unique event, aiming to offer the best possible experience to the participants. Having heard the feedback from previous entrants I can’t wait to head out to the Simpson Desert!”
Elisabet Barnes at the 2015 Marathon des Sables
In conjunction with Elisabet, iancorless.com is running a multi-day desert training camp in late January that will provide a perfect opportunity to gain information and train specifically for a desert race such as Marathon des Sables or Big Red Run – Details HERE
Entries close on May 5th for the Big Red Run and all entrants who enter before January 16th will obtain an early bird discount.
Entry details are as follows:
Be sure to get in early and take advantage of the early bird specials outlined below which apply to both Australian and overseas participants!
All competitors and volunteers receive free tickets to the Birdsville Big Red Bash music festival on 5th and 6th July valued at over $300! Festival details to follow in late 2015.
Register by 31st October 2015
Register 1st November 2015 to 16th January 2016
Balance 8th April*
Register 17th January 2016 onwards
Full entry fee payable
ENTRIES CLOSE 15TH MAY 2016
* Balance of entry fees will be invoiced and payable by 8th April 2016. Entry fees can be paid by direct transfer or credit card. Credit card payment will incur a 2.5% surcharge.
Early Bird Offers
For all entrants who register BEFORE 16th January 2016
Early Bird extras include
$100 entry fee discount
Helicopter flight voucher valued at $60
Big Red Run fleece valued at $60
Big Red Run casual T Shirt valued at $40
Total Early bird extras valued at $260. Early bird packs will be sent by 29th February 2016.
UK and European entrants can find out key information HERE. Pricing is as follows:
Overseas Fundraiser: AUD $2,850 Overseas Non Fundraiser: AUD $3,200
Please use the contact form below to express an interest in the race or book a place.