Big Red Run 2016 Race Summary on RUNULTRA

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“A down jacket protected me from the cold wind and the low temperatures, amongst the dunes of the Simpson Desert, the sky was not dark, it was black. A lack of light pollution, a lack of people, I was remote and alone in the outback of Australia. Above me the sky glowed with a series of glitter balls. It was like a child’s artwork creation, you know the ones I mean – black card, some glue and then throwing glitter at the card until it sticks. To say the sky was amazing would be a complete understatement. I could see all the constellations, I could clearly pinpoint stars and for a moment I was lost, overwhelmed by the enormity of my location and my insignificance within the world in which we live.”

Read the full article on RUNULTRA HERE

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Read daily race reports form Big Red Run HERE

View the Big Red Run IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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RACE WEBSITE HERE

Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 4 ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 31km (revised route)

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Day 3 of the Big Red Run unfortunately had no racing due to freak weather conditions during night 1 and throughout the day on race day 2. It left the Simpson Desert a mud bath of sticky clay. However, the runners embraced the day and used it for personal admin a real sense of group spirit came together where everyone helped each other to make uncomfortable camp conditions considerably better. The sun shone all day it is quite remarkable how the earth dried out. Overnight the temperatures really dropped (2 deg) leaving one or two runners with an uncomfortable night. Braddon DB Johnson whilst holding a hot mug of steaming coffee said. “It was in interesting night… I had every item of clothing on and was still a little chilly!”

As the early morning mist burnt off, a glorious day welcomed the runners for a revised stage 4 that left camp via Big Red dunes. A clockwise loop with a couple of dog legs thrown in then re-navigated the runners back to Big Red and the finish line from which they had started.

James Kohler has been trying all week for victory, often leading the stages in the early kilometres only to find in the latter stages. Today though, the 30km racing distance and a days rest played into his hands and from the off he opened just a slight gap from the usual protagonists of Elisabet Barnes, Andy Dubois, Jamie Hildage and Braddan DB Johnson.

As the run progressed, James slowly pulled away but it was a very slender margin and Elisabet made sure she kept him in sight throughout the day, she had said early in the morning, ‘Today is all about being sensible and making sure I don’t extend too much energy ahead of tomorrow’s 80km+ long stage!’

No doubt Andy, Jamie and Braddan had similar thoughts. James though seized his opportunity and ran a great stage 4 to take 1st place in 2:56:03. Elisabet crossed the line 2nd in 2:59:45 and Andy Dubois placed 3rd in 3:01:04.

It was a close day with the top 3 men and ladies all finishing within a 30-minute window. Jamie Hildage placed 4th and Braddan DB Johnson 5th, their respective time of 3:04:06 and 3:08:58. Helen Durand was the 2nd lady 3:20:03, she has performed consistently throughout the race and Anne Bennet seized the 3rd place in 3:33:27.

Tomorrow is the long day and runners will be resting up in camp and preparing for a long day ahead. Weather and ground conditions have improved dramatically over the last 24-hours and although a new route has been planned, hopefully it will include much of the terrain of the original proposed route. Camp will be moved tomorrow and although it may not be located in the original camp 5 location, it will be placed close leaving the final stage 6 ‘fun run’ as close to 8km as possible. After all, there is a very serious barbecue, cold beers, showers and some entertainment planned for post race recovery.

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Big Red Run 2016 – Stage 3 ‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km (Cancelled)

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‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km – cancelled

Adversity brings out the best in people, it’s the ‘Dunkirk’ spirit where everyone rallies around to make individual hardships a group hardship and with a little commitment, dedication and tenacity, woes and problems are taken away.

This is very much the spirit this morning on day 3 of the 2016 Big Red Run.

Race day has been cancelled due to out of the extraordinary weather during the night of day 1 and throughout day 2. In summary, the rain came in during the night and turned the Simpson Desert into a mud bath of some of the most sticky clay I have ever witnessed or in certain places, flooding!

Yes, the desert has become something akin to a UK Lakeland fell or Yorkshire moor.

They are freak conditions that have left the race team and runners in somewhat of a dilemma.

A night of reflection gave Lucas and Greg (race directors) an opportunity to look at options and an early departure from camp to recce the surrounding area confirmed several things:

  1. Racing would not happen on day 3.
  2. Camp would not be able to be moved due to excessive flooding, boggy ground and unpredictable roads that would potentially leave numerous vehicles bogged down.
  3. Day 4 will have to be a ‘new’ route to avoid some of the worst conditions and to ensure that vehicle access is possible at certain sections of the course for safety and checkpoints.
  4. Day 5 will hopefully still remain a long day of 80+ km but due to camp not moving, it will have to be re-worked to allow for the new start and end locations.
  5. Day 6, the final day is yet to be confirmed.

Greg confirmed at his early morning update that all of the above could change as they work through plans to make things happen. However, the sun has come out, the skies are blue and the conditions are already starting to dry out.

In camp, the Dunkirk spirit is at it’s best with groups of runners grabbing spades and clearing walkways to help alleviate everyone from the muddy mess. Clothes are being dried on make-shift washing lines and bushes, feet are being warmed by a fire and in an amongst all this there is a great deal of laughter as music fills the camp. The only real downside is that the flies have returned…

Today, the Simpson Desert and the Big Red Run is turning into a scene of ‘Survivor’ and on reflection, although everyone would have preferred a full racing day, the experience will be one to remember.

Greg and his team are now working flat out to make things happen and in the last 5-minutes I have had an update on plans for the coming days.

  • Tomorrow, stage 4 will be approximately the same distance as planned with a re-working of the route to miss the most affected areas and allow vehicle staff for crew access and safety. Overnight camp will remain in the same place.
  • Stage 5 will be a long stage of 80+ km (tbc) and the route will have slight modifications but it will finish at the original camp site as planned. This will allow Greg and his team to move the whole camp from it’s current location to the originally planned location while the runners are out on course.
  • Stage 6 will be as originally planned, a short un-timed run into the town of Birdsville.
  • The Big Red Bash – an open air concert originally planned to take place next to the Big Red Dunes has now been moved to the town of Birdsville. With over 7000 people travelling to the concert, the risk of vehicles getting stuck in the outback was far too high.

All-in-all, Greg and has team have done a remarkable job to pull all this together at such short notice. As I said, the 2016 Big Red Run will be one to remember!

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Big Red Run 2016 – Birdsville or Bust!

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It feels like I have been travelling for 6-days. The reality is, I have, sort of… I left South Africa on the 19th June, arrived in the UK on the 20th. Had an overnight stop in London and then departed to Australia via Dubai and arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday night at midnight. A day in Brisbane provided some RnR and then today, Friday 24th I had 4-hours of flying to arrive in Birdsville for the start of the 2016 Big Red Run.

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Birdsville is a small town located on land traditionally owned by the Wangkanguru People, in the Channel Country of Central West Queensland, Australia. It is 1,590 kilometres (990 mi) west of the state capital, Brisbane, and 720 kilometres (450 mi) south of the city of Mount Isa. Birdsville is on the edge of the Simpson Desert, approximately 174 km east of Poeppel Corner and the climate is very arid. Birdsville has a population of around 100… it’s what I expected an outback place to be and look like!

Today, runners from around the world have congregated in this small place to register and prepare for the 4th edition of the Big Red Run (BRR). The BRR is Australia’s first and only multi-day race participants are offered a choice of 2 different runs.

The Big Red Run – a 6 day 250km stage Race, starting and ending at the iconic Birdsville Pub

The Little Red Run– a 6 day 150km stage Race, starting and ending at the iconic Birdsville Pub. Ideal for those wanting to dip their toes into Stage racing, or equally achievable for trekkers and adventure hikers.

The Big Red Run

250km, 6 day stage, 7.30 am Sat 25th June - Thurs 30th June 2016
  • 5 marathons in 6 days.
  • Starting at Birdsville pub with a lap around Birdsville before heading west to the impressive Big Red sand dune, which will be home for the following 2 nights.
  • Day 1 = ‘Birdsville Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 2 = ‘Adria Downs Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 3 = ‘Arpilindika Marathon’ – 42.195km
  • Day 4 = ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 31km
  • Day 5 = 84.39km (the equivalent of two individual marathons back to back!!!)
    • Marathon 1 “Mohan Marathon”
    • Marathon 2 “Roseberth Marathon”
  • Day 6 = ‘Birdsville or Bust’ – final 8km run to Birdsville Pub, followed by a late afternoon awards BBQ and entertainment.

The Little Red Run

150km, 6 day stage, 7.30 am Sat 25th June - Thurs 30th June 2016
  • 2 marathons and 2 half marathons in 6 days.
  • Starting at Birdsville pub with a lap around Birdsville before heading west to the impressive Big Red sand dune, which will be home for the following 2 nights.
  • Day 1 = ‘Birdsville Marathon’ – 42.2km (same as Big Red Run)
  • Day 2 = ‘Adria Downs Half Marathon’ – 21.1km
  • Day 3 = ‘Arpilindika Half Marathon’ – 21.1km
  • Day 4 = ‘Sprigg Sprint’ 15.4km
  • Day 5 = Marathon 1 “Mohan Marathon” – 42.2km (Same as 1st day 5 Marathon of Big Red Run)
  • Day 6 = ‘Birdsville or Bust’ – final 8km run to Birdsville Pub, followed by a late afternoon awards BBQ and entertainment.

All runners from Big Red Run and Little Red Run finish the week together with the day 6 Birdsville Bust 8km run which is untimed, to celebrate their weeks achievement.

With registration complete, mandatory kit and all essential items for each runner had to be added to a bag with a maximum allowance of 14kg. Like other multi-day races, the BRR (and LRR) is self-sufficient, however, here in Australia it is with a difference. Food, spare clothes, sleeping bag etc is transported by the race team to await the runners on finishing. Runners must carry essential mandatory kit to ensure safety on the route but unlike say, Marathon des Sables, these requirements are considerably less. It may well be the perfect combination of ‘semi’ self-sufficiency.

Day 1 starts tomorrow, Saturday 25th June at 0730am (Australia time) with a 42km leg to the fist overnight camp.

Daily reports and images will be posted here on this website and through my normal social media outlets.

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