Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Meet the support team - Graham and Jason

This is the first of a few up and coming articles where I'd like to introduce the kind folk who have volunteered their time, paid for their own flights and will be supporting me on the run across Australia.

In order of appearance, first up is Graham Leslie (below) from Gosforth. Graham's duties start on day 1 on Cottesloe Beach in Perth and are scheduled to finish 533 miles later on the Eyre Highway just east of Norseman.

Graham turns 65 the day before the run starts and brings a wealth of experience to the team. He once crossed the Sahara in 4 weeks, has cycled unsupported from Lands End to John O'Groats and 2000 miles around Europe.

Graham has contributed so much to the team already with hours of extensive research done on the section of the route between Perth and Adelaide. That's a 1675 mile stretch where the best rest stops, fuel stations, camp sites, dump stations, medical facilities, etc have all been sussed out!

Graham had the following to say about why he wanted to be a part of the team: "I first came across Mark three years ago when my stepdaughter mentioned someone she worked with was planning to run across America. Although rather sceptical of his chances of success, I followed Mark’s USA blog with great interest and when he reached New York I told myself I’d try to be part of his support team if he ever did something like it again. I applied for Australia and to my surprise and pleasure was given a place on the team. 

Doing something a bit more adventurous than a normal holiday appealed and of course helping Mark to raise funds for such worthwhile charities also played a big part. I haven’t been to Australia and I’m excited about seeing those classic outback landscapes and staying overnight in remote places. I’m not so keen about meeting snakes and other dangerous wildlife. Sleeping in a hot motor-home could be a downside too. 

As a keen runner, I’m hoping to have the chance to run a bit every day with Mark to help keep him motivated. I’ve done a couple of long bike rides and so know a little about the mental side of such journeys. Hopefully that will come in useful to encourage Mark if he’s going through a bad patch.".

Graham runs for Claremont Road Runners in Newcastle and has a season best 10k time of 00:42:42. He's no slouch when it comes to running and I'm looking forward to getting some miles in with him in Australia.

Joining the team in Norseman on day 12 is 26 year old physio Jason Stobbs (pictured below with Mo Farah). That day is my first rest day and Jason's first task will be to assess the physical damage caused by running 451 miles in the first 11 days and carry out any repairs. I'll be taking full advantage of having Jason and Graham on the team for the next 2 days with the option of having more running company than when there is just one person on the team. 

Where Graham adds experience, Jason joins the team with a whole host of therapeutic and sport science qualifications and experience. Like Graham, Jason is a keen runner and has a sound understanding of many aspects of running and also the physical problems that I'm likely to encounter by running 41 miles per day in Australia. In fact, Jason came highly recommended by Alison Meldrum at the Cradlewell Clinic. Alison, of course, was responsible for getting me back on my feet after the run across the USA.

Jason's duties have already started and he has been working closely with C&P Medical who are kindly supplying the various items, free of charge,  that will be needed for my treatment during the run.

Jason will be on the support team until day 31 and leaves the tour in Ceduna where Carlton will be taking over. I'll talk more about that in a future blog post.

Jason had the following to say about his time on the team: "I will be accompanying Mark for 3 weeks on his run across Australia. I'm a sports therapist and joined the support team because I have a passion for helping people achieve their goals and running. Therefore, supporting Run Geordie Run across Australia is the perfect combination of my interests. 

After setting up my own company 4 years ago (Sports Therapy North East) I am always looking to further my career and develop myself. After spending time working at the Olympics in 2012 it provided me the opportunities to work with a vast range of people and experience sports therapy at another level. Soon after that this exciting opportunity came up. 

I believe my trick for motivating Mark to achieve the goal mileage each day will be simply that after experiencing the pain of his first massages Mark would rather carry on running for a very long time!

I'm enjoying all the preparation going into the run but can't say I've enjoyed reading all the horror stories about extreme cases of creepy crawlies and reptiles that keep getting emailed around.".

With regard to Jason's last point, I must admit that some of the support team and myself have been known to send the odd email about the various beasts in Australia. From what I can gather, there isn't a single person on the team who isn't afraid of something or other. I get the feeling that this is going to make for various high jinx on the trip and rumor has it that various plastic snakes and spiders have already been purchased for careful placement around the RV (or in sleeping bags). That's just a rumor though!

So that's the first 2 members of the Australia support team. They have a really important and very difficult job to do. It's imperative that we all get off to a good start and ensure that all of the miles that need to be run are done in as quick, safe and efficient manner as possible.

You can follow them both on Twitter where I'm sure they will be giving their own view of things in the build up and during the run itself. Graham is @GLes48 and Jason is @JasonStobbs.

I'll talk soon about the remaining members of the team; Carlton, Dave, Ian and Donna.