Big Red Run Stage 2
There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
Big Red Run: 42km
Little Red Run: 21km
If there was one takeaway today, it was the mud. In this part of the world it never rains, it pours. The majority the participants in the Big Red Run are locals and even they had to admit that this was a pretty rare phenomenon. The inhabitants of CWA hardly ever see rain and when you enter a desert race, the last thing you expect is rain …and mud. The race organiser Greg Donovan had been very clear on mandatory kit requirements and most runners probably thanked him for that at the end of today.
A course which is not particularly technical suddenly became just that and many runners decided to take their poles and start with the mandatory rain jacket or goretex. The start saw nobody running – the runners ploughed their way in the pouring rain through the sticky, slippery clay-like mud on the first couple of kilometres. Clumps of mud and bush stuck to the bottom of run shoes, making what would have been relatively easy runnable terrain, laborious and physically draining. Then a long stretch of road which had turned into a muddy skating rink. The day alternated between short periods of respite from the rain followed by downpours with considerably lower temperatures. As RD Greg Donovan said: We don’t control the weather, often it controls us, especially in the desert.”
Many took longer to finish a flatter marathon-distance course today and crossed the finish line considerably more fatigued by the conditions. Elisabet Barnes confirmed her supremacy on the BRR winning the stage in a time of 4:17.
“These were without doubt the hardest race conditions I have ever run in. It was extremely challenging. I had at least a kilo of mud stuck to the bottom of each shoe and it drained me, especially on the road section.”
In spite of the extremely tough conditions today, spirits were very high and each runner crossing the finish line was cheered on by race crew and fellow runners.
Glen Brooks from Adelaide : The man of contradictions
Glen is not your run of the mill multi-stage runner. Sinewy and wiry, 61 years old, with a long white beard and a twinkle in his eye, he has a story to tell.
“I worked in a factory for 30 years and then decided it was time for a change. I love the outdoors so I decided to work in the vineyards. I pick grapes, do pruning, do bunch thinning, that sort of thing. It’s pretty flexible, I love it.”
I get all excited and think we’re going to exchange a few words on a mutual passion for wine, talk about Australian Cabernet, Merlot or Pinot Noir but he cuts me short with:
“I don’t like wine, never drink it.”
Radical change of subject and we talk about his running career.
“I started running when I was 45. A couple of crazy guys started talking about some crazy events so I thought I’d give it a try.”
We talk about his family and I am surprised to find out he has 4 daughters, 4 grand-daughters and 4 great grand-daughters.
“I decided to do the BRR to get away from all the women and I find myself running in a team of 5 women who talked me into it. What can i say? There just seem to be more women running in the local trail community than guys.”
It’s a very relevant observation and figures at BRR reflect the local trend. More than half the participants are female.
Time to leave Glen as he rushes off to catch his pre-booked helicopter ride, which is free for all BRR participants. A lot of firsts for this “young” man – first multi-stage, first helicopter ride …§
Emma Jones: Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Local lady, Emma, 33 years old, mother of three lives on a wheat and sheep farm in NSW. New to running, she only ever used it to train for Tough Mudder events and netball competitions. BRR is not only her first multi-stage event but also her first marathon. The longest she has ever run is 35km and in the space of a week she’ll be running 4 marathon stages and a total of 250km. But Emma doesn’t seem put off by the challenge ahead. After all, today she has just completed her first marathon and what makes to all the more impressive is that Emma suffers from Type 1 Diabetes.
So how does she cope with diabetes as a runner, and how does it impact on her running?
“I was diagnosed at age 5 so I don’t remember life before diabetes. It has never stopped me from doing anything but it has made things a lot harder and a lot more challenging, especially through puberty and pregnancy, which was a tough battle with the first one. I needed to work out what effect hormones had on my insulin-effectiveness. i’ve done a few Tough Mudders before. The body feels a lot better today after 21km than before, apart from the knees!”
I ask her about her motivations in entering the Big Red Run.
“I decided to do it for 2 reasons. First to raise awareness for funding and second to see how a multi-stage would effect me as a diabetic and prove that taking pat in a multi-stage and having Type 1 Diabetes are not necessarily incompatible. I’ve raised nearly $10, 000. It’s really rewarding. The money will go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. All the money raised by the runners in BRR goes there. Over the last 4 years the event has raised a total of $800, 000.”
I ask her how this change in lifestyle has impacted on her health.
“In more ways than one. I have managed to reduce my insuline levels and reduced my weight by 30kg over the last 2 years. I feel a lot better, fitter and stronger. I pay more attention to nutrition and take better care of myself.”
What precautions do you need to take while you are running and how does this effect your energy levels?
“I’ve reduced my insulin intake by about 50% but the real challenge is going to be tonight 7 hours post-exercise. My blood sugar levels have been really good today and not too low but I have a Continual Blood Glucose Monitor, which is attached to me all the time. It makes the whole control of the blood glucose a lo easier. This morning I had a bowl of porridge and some electrolytes. I had a muesli bar and felt a little sick so I haven’t actually eaten anything during the race. I’m going to have a freeze-ddid meal with about 60g of carbohydrate and a lot of protein. Then some muesli bars and some dried fruit and nuts. It will be interesting to see how that goes after a normal fresh diet at home with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat!
It’s been a really good challenge for myself as a diabetic. I’ve realised that it is important to look after yourself when you’ve got a family and a couple of important businesses to run."