Seven of Deadly Sista Girlz’s finest athletes (Vicki Tillott, Julie Carey, Janelle Hurley, Maria Wood, Ros Hart, Kristie Orr & Carroll Towney ) made the trek out to the Outback last month to tackle the Australian Outback Marathon….this is how it all started……
Wind back to July 2012…the DSG crew were up at the Gold Coast competing in their first interstate event & happened to come across a brochure for the Outback Marathon. “I’m doing this next year” squealed Janelle Hurley with delight. Pretty soon she had roped a few others into believing that it might be possible. It was 12 months away & the savings plans now began, with girls starting to put away a few dollars each week in order to afford the airfares, race entry & accommodation.
Several information evenings were held, coordinated by Janelle & Maria (who had participated in numerous marathons around the world & was a wealth of information for everyone). By December 2012 we had 7 girls who had committed to the event & deposits were paid to secure our spots. Everyone was on the lookout for cheap flights & as soon as there was a sale on everyone jumped on board & booked flights as quickly as possible…….it was really happening now.
So savings were well underway, bookings confirmed, flights all sorted. All we had to do now was start training! There were several distances on offer ranging from 6km all the way through to a marathon. A few of the girls opted for the 11km race, some for the half marathon & 1 crazy lady for the full marathon.
Training plans were written by Vicki & the girls all started in earnest…still not quite sure what lie ahead of them. Every girl had their own way of doing their training – some attended all the DSG run sessions, some did it on their own & a few roped in some others to help them out along the journey. A few months into training the girls were really seeing the results of their efforts. Those who had completed in “She Runs the Night” in Sydney realised that they could easily run 10km & they still had a few more months before the Outback so with some gentle persuasion (thanks Vicki) everyone had upped their race distance to the half marathon. Go girlz!!!!
Training leading up to the race was tough but fairly non eventful. Julie suffered a hip injury a few months out, but managed to complete the Gold Coast Half Marathon 3 weeks prior so was confident she would be able to do the Outback. Janelle (well actually Jim) miscalculated one of her run routes & ended up running 25km in a training run so she was definitely sure she could do the distance. Ros was on fire getting faster each & every session & was now running 15km with ease.
Carroll & Kristie slogged it out on their own, combining family& work commitments, knowing they had to just tick over the kilometer’s in order to get through the race. Vicki had already completed 3 half marathons this year, getting very tired (& slower) of all this running & was just keen to get outback & run. Maria snuck in a few official training sessions with the girls, but mostly slogged it out on her own as no one was game to offer to run with her!
Friday morning – the day before the run…. the girlz head to the airport, fully decked out in their DSG hoodies & what a sight causing everyone else at the airport to wonder who we were & whether we were worth asking for autographs!!! A lovely send off by some of the DSG crew, waving the flag for us all. We got through to Sydney in one piece & strutted our way through the airport still in our DSG hoodies turning many heads along the way.
By the time we got to Uluru everyone was talking about these ‘Deadly Sista Girlz” & wondering what we were all about. We attended the event briefing, Welcome to Country & ‘carbo load’ dinner & everyone was definitely getting to know who we were. Excitement & nerves were starting to creep in & the realisation that 12 months of planning was now coming to fruition.
Sat 27th July 2013. Race Day…….
5.00am wake up call – brrr it is freezing – 4 degrees to be precise! 5.30am everyone was dressed & eating a full buffet breakfast. Careful not to eat too much (as it could well end up on the red dirt if our stomach did not like it) but knowing that it would be several hours before our next meal we had to get substantial amount of kilojoules into our bodies. 7.30am – we are all at the start, fully decked out in our DSG gear (including a few extra layers as the temperature had now dropped to 2 degrees). This is it – a few last minute photos taken (still in the dark) & begrudgingly we started to peel off several outer layers in preparation for the start of the race. Everyone is feeling a mixture of emotions & still amazed that they are actually here in the Outback, about to run a half (or full) marathon.
Now read on below & see how each of the girls fared & what they went through leading up to & during the race. This race was a first for many of the girls….. for Janelle, Kristie, Carroll & Ros it would be their first ever half marathon (the longest race they’d ever done before being the City to Surf at 14km), for Julie it would be her third half marathon in 12 months & she was getting to be quiet the pro at this distance, Vicki was notching up her forth for the year & Maria was tacking the Marathon distance which she had managed to successfully complete several of over many continents prior to this race.
The Australian Outback Marathon what a brilliant run….and what a debacle!
Pre-race went as smooth as possible & according to plan. All my race gear was laid out the night before, gels, water bottles all measured out & ready to go. Breakfast eaten & I was rugged up like the Michelin Man.
I had my gloves, jacket and beanie on due to the near freezing temp (we trained in various scenarios at home, including running at different time of the day, different surfaces, along the beach, up hills….but could not quite replicate this freezing 2 degrees in sunny Coffs Harbour!)
Just before race time I stripped off many of the external layers, put on my water belt, which held my gels bottle (with 2.5 sachets of gel all measured out & to be rationed with precision of 1 sip every 30 mins!!!). The ever faithful face washer tucked in to wipe away sweat (if you know me you know that I CANNOT run without my face washer being tucked into my pants…it helps wipe away all the sweat for those of you who are wondering what it is all about!). I started the race with my beanie, glovers & long sleeve shirt still on (yes it was cold!)
The 1km mark I was leading the DSG pack (a rarity in any situation)…then Maria comes buzzing past me yelling “You’ve had your 1km of glory so now move over!”. So 1km done & I was feeling pretty strong. A quick of all my gear and yikes the gel bottle has fallen off the belt and nowhere to be seen…..now how am I going to get thru the next 20km! I quickly devise a plan to drink Powerade, along with water at each drink station (located every 3km) to compensate for the lack of gels & to fill up one of my water bottles with Powerade as well. OK, hurdle overcome… I can still do this.
The next few kilometres were just spent taking in all the scenery as the Outback slowly woke up. The sun was not yet out but it was not dark either. A gentle breeze, ever changing colours & never ending red dirt was all around. A real peaceful feel about it, despite the heavy breathing of myself & fellow runners.
4km now done and I’m warming up nicely, so I take my gloves off and tuck them into my belt. We can leave our gear at the water stations & pick them up the following day so I figured I would do this to save lugging the extra weight with me around the track.
At the 5km the warmth is slowly coming into the air. I’ve taken my beanie off & also my jacket & tied it around my waist.
At the 6km water stop I offload all my excess clothing…..I reach back for my gloves & oops they have fallen off my belt and suffered the same fate as my gels. I hope I don’t get into trouble as there was much reinforcement about not littering on the race. Yikes!
At the 7km mark I am starting to work up a sweat & reach for my face washer….NOOOOOOOO, it too has disappeared. What is a girl to do???? This cannot be happening!!!!!!! After a very strong temptation to turn around and retrace my steps to hunt for my face washer I soldiered on deciding to use my now ‘non-white’ singlet as a poor substitute! You may laugh, but this was such a turning point for me – the gels I could go without but not having my ever faithful face washer was such a let down & I really had to dig deep & stay positive to keep going the next 14km knowing that I would be without my ‘creature comforts’.
Thankfully the next 8km went by without any disasters. I kept to my plan of drinking & filling up with Powerade at each drink station & my shirt although it was a bit more scratchy on my face, it managed to wipe away the sweat quite nicely. I get to the 15km drink station & think all my Christmases have come at once as there were jelly snakes as well as Powerade on the table. I fill up my bottle with Powerade, have a chat with the lovely volunteer, grab a handful of snakes, & then I am on my way.
Hey now hang on a minute I recognise that shirt that is now in front of me… “Strong Women, Healthy & Deadly”. Ros has tried to sneak past me (just like Wendy Griffin did at last year’s Gold Coast Half Marathon)…. I was having none of this. “Oooyyy Rossy Hart” I yell at the top of my lungs. She turns around smiles & waves & keep on running (I’ve trained her too well I think!). I will get you young lady …….a quick sprint & I am on her tail.
So now Ros & I are running together (& she is keeping me honest pushing my pace as best she could). We stop for a quick ‘selfie’ photo with the Rock behind us & trot off again.
As we past the 18km marker Ros turns & asks “Have I just run 18km?” “Yes” I tell her & she starts to get a little emotional, not believing what she has done. The longest Ros had run in training was 15km so this was all unchartered territory for her. At 19km Ros slows for a little walk break & I keep jogging on (thankfully with a little slower pace now that she has left my side). But alas Ros is beside me again in no time. We chat a bit, run, taking it all in & when we get to the 20km mark Ros is finally starting to believe that she will be able to run this 21.1km race. We do the countdown, referring back to the training runs we have done & calculating how much further to run based on how many trips up along the Jetty we would have to do to finish this race.
21km – just the final sprint to go. Ros graciously let me trot in ahead of her to the finish line. Ros is teary & now realising that she is a half marathoner. I have learnt that I can run without any extra ‘necessary’ items. And I have sent my apologies to the organisers who had to comb the track afterwards and pick up all my crap scattered along the way!
Food glorious food – this is not just about the race….it is about so much more. Firstly it is about team effort & everyone cheering everyone in & supporting you no matter if you came first or chose to spend the longest time out on the track enjoying the scenery. And to allow us to do this a full spread was put on – not only was there water & Powerade but fruit, hot soup & freshly made sandwiches & muffins to keep us going until we were ready to head home.
For me the best part of the race was yet to come – it was waiting, seeing, encouraging & then celebrating with the rest of the Deadly Sista Girlz as they all made it across the finish line one at a time. Tears tears & more tears….tears of joy, tears of elation, tears of disbelief & tears of togetherness. Setting a big goal & then achieving it side by side with your sista’s.
I first decided I wanted to go to Uluru to see the rock again (what an experience) it is truly an icon and the connection to the rock is amazing.
I thought I would only do the 11km run as I have never thought I could run 21kms, so in preparation for the run, I started to train three times a week.
When I got to the track on that very cold morning I thought here goes am I ready, it was the best place to run a marathon, the scenery was beautiful with Uluru on one side and then the Olgas on the other, the day soon warmed up and the 21 kms was soon overcome.
It was a very memorable journey that I thoroughly enjoyed and will never forget.
The outback run was such a wonderful and stimulating experience on many different levels, including personal social and spiritual engagement with country.
The whole event was very well organised including the venue accommodation and meals. The Sounds of Silence Dinner which we enjoyed under the stars was spectacular.
It was great to watch the children from Ernabella and Pintinjurra communities joining in the run and having fun. Whilst the run was the primary purpose of the weekend the presence of Uluru and Kata Tjuta was very up lifting.
It was a grand experience to share participating in the eventwith the Deadly Sistas in the beautiful red desert sand,on the dance floor even the dip in the cold pool withCarroll was invigorating.
I woke up at 4.30am on Friday morning to get ready for the big day flying to Uluru for the Australian Outback Marathon, I was so excited.
We arrived at the airport at about 5.45am for our 6.30am flight. There waiting and having a coffee were 5 Deadly Sistas, Vicki, Maria, Carroll, Ros and Janelle. We all had our Jumpers on, so everyone in the airport new who we were. But the amazing part was when Aunty Jenny, Fee, Noelene and May may showed up in there PJ’s to see us off and show there incredible support. It felt so good to be part of an amazing group of ladies.
We flew from Coffs to Sydney then the other girlz went on another flight straight to Uluru and I got on a flight to Alice Springs, which was pretty good, I got to watch a movie then we arrived at Alice. The view coming in to land was incredible; the land looked like big waves in the red dirt. I was just in Awe. I had an hour wait there at the airport and it was in the middle of nowhere and so peaceful.
I then caught another flight to Uluru, the whole time I was looking out the window looking at the unbelievable scenery. When I arrived, there was a coach waiting to take me to the Outback Pioneer Lodge.
It was about a 10 minute drive, when I got there I could see 6 Deadly Sista Girlz jumpers waiting for me and I just stepped off the bus and they said we’re going over to the town centre, for pre race meeting with the other 300 people all there for the same reason ‘A life experience’ race. During the meeting we got a quick introduction to some of the competitors, the oldest runner, the youngest runner, there were people from all over the world just for this race, there was some amazing stories, one man was on his 26th marathon for the year and wanted to get to 42 as that’s how many k’s are in a marathon.
When the meeting was finished we all went into the dinning room and had a full carb dinner. All you could eat. Yum!
We then headed back to our rooms for an early night and got ready for our race in the morning. I was in a room with Janelle, Ros and Carroll. Vicki, Maria and Julie were in another room.
Janelle’s internal alarm woke us up at 5am and we got up and ready to go for a buffet breakfast at 5.30am. The coach was coming at 6.45 to take us to the start line for a 7.45 take off.
From the starting line you could see Ayres Rock and a breath taking sunrise. It was also 2 degrees so your fingers and toes where aching they were that cold. There was a lot of photo opportunities while we were waiting for the start and a huge line up at the 5 portable toilets that everyone was getting over last minute nerves. Over the loud speaker you heard 5 minutes to go, so everyone was striping off the winter woollies and getting ready at the starting line.
As we approached the line all of us 7 deadly sista girlz held hands and proceeded to run on our way along the red dirt with Ayres Rock behind us.
After a couple of k’s I lost sight of Vicki, Maria, Julie, Ros and Janelle but I looked beside me and Carroll was still with me. Carroll and I ran and walked together for about the first 10km’s.
I looked around and I couldn’t see anybody in front of me or behind me and nothing except red dirt and a few shrubs and willow trees around me. It was like I was the only person on the planet, it felt incredible, the feeling that I was experiencing was very peaceful and made me feel connected with the earth. The sound of the wind whistling through the willow trees was an unbelievable tune. I didn’t want to leave, I had to keep reminding myself I was actually in a marathon and not just there to take photos and enjoy the incredible view of Uluru and one side and the Olgas on the other side.
While on the run I got to walk with a man from Hong Kong that just came over to Australia for 10 days to get away from all the people over there. He definitely came to the right place to escape.
I ran and walk the rest of the 8 k’s on my own except for a quick chat to the people who were looking after the water stations.
I was at about the 19 km mark when I could hear the sound of the loud speaker at the start/finish line and I was thinking ‘yes’ I’m nearly there, I’ve done it.
As I came around the corner to the home straight I could see in the distant deadly sista girlz singlets and Vicki coming towards me taking pictures, there they all were cheering me on it felt wonderful, then as I approached the last 100 metres Janelle came beside me to run with me home. She had just finished the 21 km herself and she still had the energy to run with me home, she is one Deadly Sista.
I came in at 3hrs and 16 minutes. I had thought I would finish in 3 and a half hours and I beat that, and stopped and took heaps of pictures as well.
As I crossed the finish line I received this incredible medal around my neck that said Half Marathon, I felt so very proud.
As we were waiting to support Carroll and Maria over the finish line there was plenty of drinks and food to eat while we were telling each other our experience.
That afternoon after we went back to our rooms and showered we decided to hire a car so we could go out to ‘The Rock’ and watch the sunset and visit the Culture Centre.
There was a couple hundred people all at the Sunset sight to watch ‘The Rock” change colour before your eyes. We took full advantage of the photo opportunities.
We went back to the hotel to have dinner at 6.30pm and let our hair down a little bit to celebrate our amazing day and achievements.
The next morning we rose early again to catch the sunrise at ‘the Rock’ but this time we drove around the other side that not every body gets to see, we got some wonderful photo shots and got up close and looked at a few caves and paintings that were at the base and read what the local aboriginal people used it for and how they believed it got there. It is a very spiritual place and you could really feel it.
Later that day about 11.30am we went on a tour of the Olgas. They were amazing too but didn’t have the same feeling as the rock.
We just got back from there and we had 30 minutes to have a shower and get ready for the coach to pick us up and take us to the ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner which was out in the desert under the stars. We had champagne and canapés on top of a dune overlooking Uluru, with 277 other people, it just felt like one big happy family. We got a chance to learn about the stars and were told what the Milky Way means to the local aboriginal people, we also got a chance to look through a telescope at Saturn, the ring around it was so clear.
It was the perfect way to end an absolutely incredible weekend.
By the end of the weekend everyone knew who the Deadly Sista Girlz were, that we weren’t poisonous or lethal which a few people first thought.
People all over the world now know what it means.
I would have never had this incredible experience if it wasn’t for the Deadly Sista Girlz. Thank you.