Dr Tony Weir of Tony Weir Orthodontics, Greenslopes, QLD, went on a six-day run through the Simpson Desert—by choice!
“This year I entered the inaugural Big Red Run, a charity event that raises money and awareness to fight Type 1 diabetes. The run starts in Birdsville and takes place in the Simpson Desert, well away from any four-wheel-drive tracks. For the first three days, you run 42 kilometres each day—the equivalent of a marathon a day. The fourth day is a little easier with a run of 31 kilometres. The fifth you run 85 kilometres—two marathons back to back. The sixth day is a doddle of eight kilometres.
“I’ve always liked running but became interested in ultra-marathons when we walked the Kokoda Track in 2008. My wife Sharon, myself and another guy were the first three clients of a company running an express trip. Most people walk the Kokoda Track in six to 10 days. The company predicted that we would do it in five days. We did it in three.
“That trip inspired us to enter the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge on our return. It’s a 96-kilometre race for teams of four and we competed in 2009, 2010 and 2011. We also entered the 100-kilometre Oxfam Trailwalker in 2011 that took place four weeks after the Kokoda Challenge. In 2012 we entered the North Face 100 in Sydney which meant we completed three 100-kilometre races in eight weeks. This year we backed up for Oxfam, North Face and added the 250-kilometre Big Red Run.
“Most of these events raise money for charities and we have some very generous sponsors. Invisalign donated $1000 in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and this year, 3M also donated $1000 for the Big Red Run. There are a few strange things about an ultra-event. The first is that the people who do really well tend to be older. Secondly, women can perform at exactly the same level as men. It’s one of the few sports where there is a completely level playing field. Ultimately it’s just about keeping on going. The opposition is the terrain, not the other people.
“When you run in these events, there’s no phones, no internet, no anything. It’s just you stripped down to the bare bones and put to the extremes. It becomes a journey of self discovery and you really learn a lot about yourself. The Big Red Run was such an amazing experience, I’ll be back again next year. “