From July 13th through November 8th, 2019, I ran 30 miles a day across one of the most barren, dry, remote places on Earth - Australia. From Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south, my world was governed with three simple facts:
- Water was like gold.
- Shade was [almost] nowhere.
- And the wind was relentless.
Instead of vehicle support--which is typically the case for transcontinental runs--my husband, Henley Phillips, pedaled a 350-pound bicycle and trailer full of water, food, and gear. We could not afford to make mistakes; the Outback is unforgiving, and if you are caught out in the thick of its formlessness without what you need, then you're just plain out of luck. In other words, this was the hardest and riskiest thing we've ever done as individuals and as a couple.
And it was all so worth it.
The Real Story
Most of the trip was hell. Every day felt like torture - wind, sand, heat, aches, pain, mind games, THIRST. When I woke up in the morning, the last thing I ever wanted to do was run another step. Henley pushed, dragged, hauled, and kicked his bike across plenty of miles just to keep up with me.
However, I knew it would be hard--and that's why I decided to run across this country in particular. Sometimes you need something tough to remind yourself that you are heartier, grittier, and stronger than you think you are. Better yet, sometimes you end up with an experience crazier than you could have ever imagined.
And this, my friends, is what I call adventure.
Fueling the Run
Food. How the heck did I fuel myself for 2,210 miles across Oz? Here's the gist:
Wake up at 5 AM and eat half a Kate's organic energy bar with peanut butter. Run seven miles at a ten-minute pace. Walk some. Break for an hour-long breakfast. Eat oats with nuts and raisins and granola. Gross. Head out for another seven miles at the same pace. Break for 45 minutes and eat another Kate's food bar, beloved Aussie VitaWheat crackers, and peanuts. Thank goodness for the variety of Kate's Bar flavors or else I would have gone nuts!
Run another seven miles, walk every five minutes, listen to a podcast so I don't feel bored out of my mind. Break for lunch - beans from a bag, rice from a bag, crackers, and the occasional fresh avocado. Make our own shade and break for 3-4 hours in the afternoon to hide out from the blazing sun. Drink hot tea (no joke, a cup of hot tea might actually be the trick to help cool you down!) and listen to Henley read a book out loud (my favorite part of our routine!). Stare up at the sky and say "be here now, Katie."
Four o'clock -- damn, back to running-- after having eaten a Kate's Grizzly Bar an hour prior. Run the last seven miles. Henley cooks dinner--typically tuna and pasta--while I roll my legs with what might as well have been a metal pipe. So happy to be done with another day! Surprisingly, all said and done, I only lost a pound - thank goodness! Fueling is key, and I often just ate even when I was not hungry. But it worked out well.
Finishing a Race
You know what?! Thank goodness for hardship. It makes us more mature to face life. I’ve often remembered the dread, pain, and outright torment I felt each day when running across Australia. And how trusting in the brevity of any given moment got me through to the finish. I try to use this same trust now as I embrace the uncertainty of life in general. I believe that there is no such thing in security--other than being secure in yourself and your values.
On that note, if you have a dream that bursts your heart into flames, gosh-darn go for it. After all, what do you have to lose except the very dream itself?
If you'd like to read more of Katie's writing, her adventure stories, and content around ways to live a sustainable and adventuresome life, sign up for her newsletter here: www.katievisco.com. You can also find Katie and Henley on Instagram: @katievisco and @henley.phillips.