Up at the crack of dawn (I really didn’t sleep at all last night…..)
It was cold. I wasn’t going to complain, but it wasn’t long before I was shivering, not from excitement. My Garmin was on 15% battery, I was dressed in dirty clothes and my new Toasty Mitts Skirts Sports jumper that I was saving for post desert festivities. It was the only warm thing I had at camp.
I rolled up my mat and wrote on my tent… I will sleep in a bed tonight.
Garry and Janet had a routine in the morning and I felt pretty useless trying to help pack up. I was never around to watch the other mornings.
I hadn’t felt the cold until now. Maybe because every other morning I just started running as soon as I was ready, but I really think it was just a whole lot colder today.
Just as camp was packed up and I was itching to get running and warm, a red vehicle appears! Peter and Ellis!! I was wondering what would have happened if we had left just before they arrived, as it may have been the biggest disaster of all. We may have run over a dune off track and missed them completely.
So, the no surprises continued. Ellis had tested the water. It was deeper than they thought and it was FREEZING.
Shit. In dirty gear, old shoes, no garmin charged. Changing tactics. NO SURPRISES????
Back to running the extra kilometres and staying dry.
I was freezing. I just wanted to start running. Now that I had my Garmin charger Garry wouldn’t let me go till my Garmin read 20% charge. He knew it wasn’t going to last long but was on the case. I could also clean my teeth.:)
Let’s get outta here! Suse and I took off for the last day.
Peter and Ellis showed us the way and Garry and Janet drove behind us. I stopped Garry a couple of times to tell him to turn off the engine and drive conservatively if he was worried about petrol…. (yeah, right…) Petrol was not an issue. I was running in long sleeves and pretty relieved that I wasn’t swimming through water right now. An extra 20 kms would make it a pretty normal day and it was a mild 37C max today.
The first few hours were sand dunes and a head wind. After Suse stopped running, I turned to the north and for a few kms had a wonderful tailwind. I was running on rocky track and watched my feet more than the scenery…. until something caught my eye…
Seven inquistitive emus were coming up to the track, having a good look and running with me. This continued all the way till I hit the right hand turn onto the main dirt road into Birdsville. I was now travelling east for the last time and had the headwind again.
Peter had just told me that he had gone into Birdsville last night to let the town know I was coming and I was getting a Police escort into town. I was about 30 kms from the finish and he and Ellis drove in to give warning of ETA.
I wasn’t eating much, I wanted to treat the last day more like a marathon (plus 15kms) I didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. My pace was delayed somewhat every 10 kms as I had to stop to recharge the trusty Garmin. No way was I finishing without the last day recorded, it was frustrating as Garry wouldn’t let me leave until it was back up to 18-20% each time. Suse and Janet would feed, water and sunscreen me while Garry charged the garmin.
Just before I saw this sign, three motor bikes went screaming past heading west towards Big Red. They were the first bikes I’d seen since I left Sydney. Where were they going? There’s nothing out there … surely they can’t ride over dunes?
It wasn’t the last time I saw those guys. They were 3 tough looking blokes from out Penrith way and they’d bought Desert Parks passes to ride through the Simpson Desert. They didn’t get to Big Red, let alone out of Queensland. I saw them the next day in Birdsville looking battered, bruised and worse for wear after falling off their bikes numerous times trying to get over the dunes. Lucky they were smart enough to turn around…Back to the road…. I wasn’t emotional. I thought I would be as there had been a few days where my thoughts had me pretty teary. With some passing cars I’d have a lump in my throat as I tried to explain Bear Cottage, sometimes it was just realising how incredibly fortunate I am to have my family and health. I want nothing. How cool is that?
About 10 kms out of Birdsville I met up with Don who drove beside me at 10kms/hr and then a couple of kms out met Neale (Policeman) who drove in front of me to the pub. ( at a pace that was a tad too fast!) It was great to have Suse beside me as we laughed all the way to the pub.
Kelly from Birdsville had told me that there was a glass of wine waiting for me on the bar and I wondered how long it had been there for… not that I wasn’t going to drink it if it was warm! I quickly grabbed a coke from Garry ….. didn’t need to rehydrate straight away with a wine after 10 grog free days 🙂
The entire population of Birdsville was at the pub. I don’t know how long they had been waiting for me but the pub was rocking. My wonderful support guys could finally have a cold beer and throw in their job of pampering a smelly runner.
How lucky was I to find 4 strangers that had no idea about running, but knew about the desert and 4WDing. Throw in a true friend that wanted a challenge and ran more than she ever had in a week and a lesson in the Australian outback. As Peter says, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. So glad I made the effort to persevere with the organising of this. It won’t be the last.
That shower was the best shower I have ever had.. and that was a pretty good hug.