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Nutrition and safety.

6 May

So where do I start about what to eat and what to take when there are no shops or hospitals for 664kms?

I knew it was going to be hot. If I had a simple life that didn’t involve raising kids, work etc. I would pick winter. Running in June/July/August would be a breeze. I had a 2 week window this year that I could do this. With my son Charlie doing his HSC this year, I had to do it early in the season. I plan to be around for him for the rest of the year. The Simpson Desert is closed during the summer months because of extreme temperatures… it had only been open for two weeks when I started running. I thought it would be hot… like 35C not 45C!

Even with the heat we had decided for safety and ease of setting up camp there was no running at night.

We had VKS radio contact, epirb, GPS tracking in both cars and I carried a radio when running to communicate to both cars and for safety when vehicles were heading my way. I also carried a Spot 2 GPS tracker with an emergency button that if pressed would alert the appropriate authorities…. and send them out to the last GPS co ordinate. It was used to let family and friends know where I was each day and I’d press the ok button at camp to let them know where I was for the night.

I left the water situation to the boys. Garry and Peter had plenty. For two total strangers, I was totally committed to their knowledge of the desert and their cars. Emails and phone calls flew around before the trip and I felt comfortable.

I packed 23 kgs in a duffle bag. Tent, sleeping mat, running clothes, first aid and supplements. No hair dryer or makeup. I didn’t look at myself for 10 days. No mirror…. probably a good thing 😉 I also had around 15kgs of carry on luggage.(mainly nutrition)

First Aid. The most comprehensive gear I have ever put together.

St John info sheets (for the crew) I knew my First Aid, but what if I was unconscious??

IV cannulas, Hartmanns fluid, IV lines, tourniquets, compression bandages, ice packs.

Drugs… Adrenaline, Zofran, Antibiotics, Immodium, Pain Killers (NSAIDS and Panadol) Fortunately not one drug was needed.

Dental emergency kit, Emergency glue, steri strips, thermometer, scales, bandages, tapes, needles, syringes, alcowipes… yeah, yeah, space blankets, scissors and whatever else you think I may have missed. Really should have written everything down … but you get the gist. I was totally prepared for the worst. I’d even asked one of the Cardiac surgeons I work with if he could fly a plane 🙂

Spent some time with the pharmacist at work on what to take… anti venom… ah, bugger it. Adrenaline. If the shit hits the fan, adrenaline. If it doesn’t work…. the shit hits the fan…

Major concerns were snakebites and dehydration. After (and during) Day 1  I was seriously worried about the heat. How can I get through over 650kms if the temp continues to be 45C? I was very aware of what I was drinking and the lack of urine on the first day. Over 15 litres in and 200 mls out in 24 hrs is a major concern. 

Passing vehicles and dressed for the heat.

I know the risk taken when you take NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs like Nurofen/Ibuprofen) combined with ultra running and dehydration. I don’t want to mess with my kidneys. I didn’t take any painkillers for the whole trip.

The only time I had any thought of a cramp was in my hammy when I hit my mat and was horizontal at 17:30 on Day 1. Garry noticed… damn it. He suggested magnesium tabs….He doesn’t miss a beat that guy. I took nothing but I was glad he was watching over me.


You plan for a 100km event. You take more…. a lot more.

I’d packed heaps of eLoad Gu, electrolyte tabs, sports drink. I ate no Gu. I carried it incase I needed it but for a 664km event I felt it was important to keep the digestion real. The sports drink was consumed in copius amounts. So was water. The electrolye tabs were great when I just hated the excess sports drink.

The first few days I was eating Just Right for breakfast. I then decided that I just wanted an Up and Go. The crew would pack up camp and meet me 25 kms down the road.  I’d eat creamed rice and then tinned fruit after that. By 40kms, it was whatever I felt like. It was so stinking hot and I felt like lemonade and rice crackers… tuna and rice cake… I thought I’d be into sweet stuff like apricot delights, snakes etc but my body was more wanting protein and savoury stuff.

My hydration pack was fine for the first 30kms. After that I took the bladder out as it was like drinking dirty, hot tap water. The crew could then hand me a cold bottle when I saw them.

I packed magnesium, zinc and calcium tablets but took none. I wanted to trust my food and how I felt. I also carried some Ensure (total nutrition powder) as back up if I couldn’t stomach food. (Thanks Ian for the heads up.) It came home with me unopened. I had to have every product possible on board. Just in case.

My crew were wondering why my food bag was basically untouched. Their supplies were so good that my bag was void of any item not already offered to me and Suse had bought my favourite rice snacks from Tokyo. Oishi!

My crew were there for me but not controlling me.  I was happy to eat whatever was planned for the evening meal by Garry and Janet and Peter and Ellis.  I knew I had to keep on top of my nutrition and any physical or mental issue that may present itself. As long as they thought I knew what I was doing… all is good 🙂 I’m good at bullshitting… should be ok 🙂


Day 4 to Purnie Bore

22 Apr

I’m getting into a groove by about now. Suse would wake me in the morning, we’d given up on the Just Right and gone for an Up and Go and get outta here attitude. She was upping her distance to 25 kms and feeling pretty psyched about what she was achieving.

We’d had dingos around the previous night and made sure our shoes were in our tent. Didn’t need to lose a shoe about now.

We left camp and finally enjoyed the softer terrain underfoot. Those first 30kms were so welcome.

Garry and Janet were lurking in their car more than usual and I radioed to find out if they were waiting to get a photo of me dropping my pants to pee……

The dingos were hot on the scent of some small person……..

Beautiful photo by Garry Tapper.

The crew were so fabulous. Not once did they question what I was doing, if I could do it, did they know better? Nup. They were totally committed to helping me achieve my goal… and they trusted my judgement. I had a race plan and I stuck to distances like glue. Never once did they suggest that I was over stepping limits, should slow down, speed up, take a day off… They totally believed I knew what I was doing…… did I tell you that they’d never met me before??

So the temperature was steadily dropping. Only a top of 42 C today. My legs felt fine, my heel blisters were no worse. I popped them every night, dried them with an alcowipe and left them to dry out overnight before Friars Balsam and hyperfix did their charm all day. I reckon I was winning.

Our maps suggested that Purnie Bore was only 68kms away but I’d done some web search and guessed over 70kms.

My back was still hurting… my calves, quads and hammys were feeling fresh ………  the sand dunes had appeared and I was happy to see them. Crew saw some emus, I just wanted to see Purnie Bore….

72 kms of running and there she was. How exciting…. a drop toilet that I wasn’t going to touch after seeing the beady rat eyes staring up at me last year….

How stupid that a place like Purnie Bore can be a landmark to get excited about. 72km day….

278 kms done.

About Jane Trumper

13 Apr

Mild mannered anaesthetics supervisor and ICU nurse by day and by night, unstoppable ultramarathon runner by every other waking and sleepwalking hour. The first woman to complete the Aussie Grand Slam of Ultra Running with 4 races of 100-150 miles within a single 3-month period, Jane is now the first woman to ever run across the Simpson Desert.

Her latest exploit began on April 1. Ably supported from 2 vehicles by a roughly assembled crew of 5 from Tokyo, York in W.A, and Adelaide in South Australia, Jane reached her goal in Birdsville on Tuesday April 10 – but only after a flood-threatened journey of more than 660km in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius.

She is yet to reach her fundraising goal for charity of choice Bear Cottage, but if you’re reading this right now you can help by clicking on this link.

Jane ran across the desert in a single pair of Bondi B running shoes from Hoka OneOne Australia. She is also proud to be a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports and Injinji, and appreciates the support of her local running shop, Northside Runners, in Manly.

Her ongoing challenge, soon to be met, is to complete her hundredth ‘standard’ marathon this year.

O yeah, she’s only little…

How Much Simpson Desert Can Jane Trumper Bear?

12 Apr

By Roger Hanney


“I did this whole thing to raise money for Bear Cottage, rather than to see my name up in lights,” she muses. “The lows of the trip were probably when I was out there thinking about Bear Cottage and just realizing how lucky I am to have three healthy kids. I think there was more of that sort of emotion than ‘I can’t do it’.”

Jane Trumper has just become the first woman to run across Australia’s harsh sunburnt Simpson Desert. Drinking up to 15 litre of water per day in temperatures approaching 45 degrees Celsius, this nurse from Dee Why, who only took up running 8 years ago, set out at dawn on April Fools Day, 2012, uncertain of what lay ahead. 10 days and 660km later, she made it to Birdsville, home of the famous outback races, for a beer, a bath, and a comfortable bed.

At age 51 going on 35, and nicknamed Small in reference to her subtle height, Trumper has an irrepressible lust for life that draws supporters to her. Her friend Susan Griffen came from Tokyo to keep her company along the way, new friends Garry and Janet Tapper drove their 4WD from York in WA and picked her up from Alice Springs Airport and crewed the entire run, alongside another vehicle from South Australia, driven by supporters Peter and Ellis.

“The heat made me slower than expected so I was out each day for longer than I thought I would be. I really didn’t mind the sand dunes, even the soft sand didn’t worry me at all. What I did mind was the rubble and the ankle breaking rocks on the road.”

“You don’t get any help out there if something goes wrong, but I didn’t even take a Panadol, the whole 10 days – no pain relief, nothing!”

Any escape from the heat, perhaps running under the moon?

“I did no running at night – too dangerous out there, no way in the world,” she says, matter-of-factly.

With the risk of snakes, even after sundown, the option of running in a cooler time of day just wasn’t available. There would have also been the added strain on the support crew of making and breaking camp – a laborious process of bedding, stoves, food and water preparation, and repacking vehicles  – twice a day rather than once.

So how did she keep running day after day, and what was her routine?

“As soon as it got light I started running. There were a couple of days I finished running just as it was getting dark,” recalls Trumper. “And on the day I was running into Pirnie Bore the distance was inaccurate so I had Garry driving behind me with the lights on and it was dark when I got there.”

The most famous sand dune in the Simpson is named Nappanerica in the local dialect, but visitors just know the 40-metre high sand mountain near the Desert’s eastern boundary as Big Red.

“I didn’t actually have to run up Big Red but I decided because it was there I had to.”

While Trumper’s last attempt to cross the desert was stopped by fires, this time heavy rains nearly saw her adventure delayed by floods. The combination of mud and sand was enough to stop one of her support vehicles, forcing the other to tow it.

“There was an old Aboriginal guy there, up the top of Big Red. He said that in his lifetime he has never, ever seen water there like that, so yesterday we had to make a bit of a detour around that for the vehicles and run a bit further than expected.”

Sand dunes aside, the greatest highs and lows in ultra marathon are usually deeply emotional and personal.

“I did this whole thing to raise money for Bear Cottage, rather than to see my name up in lights,” she muses. “The lows of the trip were probably when I was out there thinking about Bear Cottage and just realizing how lucky I am to have three healthy kids. I think there was more of that sort of emotion than ‘I can’t do it’.”

She also laughs about her time in the shifting red sands. “I don’t think there were any major highs, other than seeing the support vehicle up ahead with cold water – that was probably the best.”

The day after completing this epic challenge, how does she feel?

Today, she says she could easily go for a run, maybe a 10km, but warns that it would be slow. She’s returning home briefly at the end of the week, but only as a pitstop. With just a couple more races now until she reaches her 100th ‘standard’ marathon, she’s off this weekend to run the Canberra Marathon.

But, she warns, “that’ll be slow,” now laughing, “that’ll be very slow.”

See Jane’s blog at Please visit it to donate to Bear Cottage.

Desert night life – more pics to come soon : )

27 Sep

snapshot of desert running night life.


Better safe than sober?

24 Sep

Race abandoned after Day 8 due to fires in the desert.

Simpson Desert closed to all vehicles until at least Tuesday. Had to abandon lots of gear after 352 km to get back to Purni Bore. Spent Thursday night tentless there sleeping with rats under the stars – highlight was pair of beady eyes staring up from the bottom of honeypot. Race organisers staying out there to recover gear some time next week – tents/food/chairs/table – all sitting out in the desert until at least Tuesday. The rest of us spent last night at Mt Dare drinking our sorrows at the bar.

All runners devastated as we were all running as a team for the next 300km. No injuries, feeling fresh as a daisy.

Last thing we expected when we started was to see so much vegetation in the desert from so much rain beforehand. These fires will probably turn it back into the Red Centre. Won day 8 for SIDS in 7:19 – slow across the dunes from the massive heat, over 40 degrees. My drink bladder was nasty like hot bathwater.

Absolutely gutted, we were all so prepared to just finish. There was no way any of us wouldn’t just finish. We’d already all decided that when we got to Birdsville we’d all go have just one drink before showering. Fantastic thing to find 4 awesome new running mates. One of them reckons I’m a bloke dressed up as a girl  : )

All of us wanto to come back and do this again. All the support guys and the 4WD Club drivers have just been magic, and even the St. John’s ambos want another go.

Still, gutted.

Thanks for everyone’s support throughout. Sorry for communications not being 100% from the desert, but our 18-year-old communications guy Alex Turner has been setting up satellite dish every night and doing a great job when he’s not busy defacing my Facebook ; )

More soon – back in Sydney Tuesday and will share a bunch of pics and videos then.

Day of Doon

21 Sep

Day 7 was full of head winds and dunes. Ran with the other 4 guys and kept the pace in the last 11kms to an easy pace to conserve our quads. Time 6:31
The first week over, we are now settling into a steady pace with dunes for the next week. No civilisation to speak of. Water and fuel scarce, so conserving what we can. The head games have started with Rowdy reckoning we only have 5 days to go as nobody would pull the pin on day 13, 14 or 15….
308 kms done and feeling fresh (unlike the bush toilet set up in the heat) Talking of toilets, when we finished there tumble weeds flying high in the sky and picked up the toilet tent and moved it 50 metres… shame Merryl wasn’t on it.
Will know more in the morning if my quads are good when I try to get dressed and pack up my kit in my tent. Thanks to everyone who have sent me messages of support. Love hearing from you.

Day 6……… 264kms done

20 Sep

Temp was a bit cooler today but a tad more sand. Took it easy doing the first 22kms in 2:45. Ran with Pete and had an easy day of it finishing in 5:45. Feet feeling good, legs still fresh which is the plan. Waiting for Big Red on day 14 to really feel it. Will be a well deserved drink at Birdsville on Thurday week. The 4 guys I am running with are all fantastic. Age range from 24 to 43. We are getting on like a house on fire and in good spirits. Rowdy (24) has well and truely stolen Barry’s Hokas and they won’t be returned. The desert is changing every day and the sand dunes are going to get bigger.

Day 5

19 Sep

220 kms done.
Spent all night with wind howling around my tent and plenty of wind in the tent next door. Not much sleep. Took it easy today and managed 6:08 finishing with Rowdy and Lachlan. Windy, temp only hit 34 today. Just back from Dalhousie Springs … water temp 36 degrees. Day 5 done. 430kms to go.

Day Three :)

17 Sep

Sand People! Day 3, crossing the Simpson with Multimarathon.

After a 44km run yesterday in 5:49 and temp of 37, had pretty much the same run today. Finished in 5:44. Ran from Northern Territory through into South Australia (pretty cool eh?) Now at Mt Dare. Ran the first 22kms in 2.30 and then took it pretty easy in the heat. Hoka Bondi’s are giving me no grief. Absolutely love them. 4 out of the six of us running the whole desert are wearing them. How weird. Setting up camp and sleeping in a tent is OK so far…..  The orchestra at night (21 people all up) includes about 5 super snorers and lots of gas leaks…. not so good.  132kms done. 518kms to go..