Today I ran my first desert marathon which took place in the beautiful Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park situated 30km outside of Coober Pedy - Opal Capital of the World. The park is perhaps best known for featuring in films such as Mad Max 3, Pitch Black and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The awe-inspiring landscape and inhospitable terrain made for a truly unique and interesting running experience. Although the terrain is relatively flat, the vast endlessly stretching land brings with it, its own mental torture. The Marathon takes place in the middle of winter so while the weather is not as hot as it could be it is still a test for my delicate Irish skin!
The marathon was definitely the most unusual and enjoyable I have run to date. The day began with participants being picked up outside information center in gigantic heavy vehicles. It felt like we were shipping out and going to war. Perhaps we were. All two of us.
I feel a deep affinity with the desert.
Which is truly bizarre as it is in complete contrast to the landscape
I grew up within the green isle of Ireland.
The drive into the desert was very picturesque. A never-ending series of multi-colored mounds dotted the landscape. Which I have learned is synonymous with opal mining. I was filled with excitement at the prospect of running amidst the moon plains and arid desolate desert terrain that had once upon a time been completely submerged undersea.
I feel a deep affinity with the desert. Which is truly bizarre as it is in complete contrast to the landscape I grew up within the green isle of Ireland. One cannot but be humbled by the unique beauty, unfathomable vastness, and merciless red dust that reigns supreme under the hot desert sky. Although the persistent flies, I could do without.
The one thing that really stood out about this event is the community feel and deep warmth you are shown as a participant. I felt this from the very start and throughout the day at all the aid stations.
I received much more than water, Powerade, sunscreen and jelly babies. Kinds words and words of encouragement was bestowed upon me when I needed them the most. This enabled me to run happily for 26.2 miles with a smile on my face which is no easy feat!
The icing on the cake was to cross the finish line as the first female and second overall!
Although it was wonderful to place and receive a prize for the torture I had been through – in particular receiving an opal necklace! It is the experience, kind words, and warmth I received from all the wonderful people I met throughout the day that I will truly treasure and linger in my mind.
Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers, organizers, fellow runners and awesome people I had the pleasure to meet! You rock!