Sunday, 22 December 2013

Day 64

(Wednesday 18th December)

Day 64 started after having only 3 hours sleep.  Without being hooked up to power on a campsite there is no air conditioning.  This is not pleasant and makes it very difficult to sleep.  As if that wasn't bad enough but the fridge decided that it couldn't cope in these temperatures either.  

After the usual of 45 minutes to clean and dress Mark's feet he was out on the road. One of the workers who had stopped to give Mark cold water on day 63 tooted as he passed.  Mark commented: 

"I've also noticed how more enthusiastic the #roadtrain drivers are. Perhaps a few of them have driven past a few times over the last 63 days."

Mark passed this sign and reflected on both the distance and experiences so far...

"Australia, bring your heat, your flies and your sharp stoned roads. You have 1 week left to break me and so far you've failed."

"I might grow weary, I might grow weak, I might bend but I will not break. So Australia you need to up the ante. You're running out of time."

Just after 9am Mark stopped for porridge.  By this time the temperature had already reached 30 Celsius.    Mark used his time to have a catch up/tactical conversation with David Fairlamb and look at the miles ahead.

"The next 3 or 4 days should see quieter roads with scorching temperatures of around 40 Celsius."

"Then it's onto the busy M31 which is dual carraigeway all the way to Sydney. Slightly cooler temperatures are forecast."

After leaving Darlington Point Mark met a couple of cyclists from South Korea.  They were travelling also travelling from Perth so Sydney - any translators out there…?

Mark took the time to review the tag line of his headline sponsor, Benfield, Enjoy the journey.

The positivity was soon quashed when a road train driver decided to throw a bottle of wee at Mark on the roadside.

"So Australia, you sense defeat. You're resorting to dirty tactics. That bottle came at me some speed. Is this how it's gotta be?"

"I should point out that #roadtrain drivers are fantastic. That's 1 in tens of thousands who've pulled that kind of stunt."

This gave Mark some fire in his belly and started an attack on the miles…

"Now I'm angry. #ifeeltheneed #theneedforspeed #attack"

Comments had appeared on Mark's Facebook page in his addressing of Australia, he added these comments:

"Some interesting comments on my Facebook page about my nemesis - Australia."

"When I refer to Australia I mean all the challenges it has to throw at me. And followers will know all of them."

"The kind and supportive people of this incredible country have been nothing short of brilliant."

"The one major thing about this run that I'll take away is the support that I've been so lucky to have."

"I'm looking forward to talking to more Aussies in my last few weeks here. It's a unique kind of enthusiastic support."

"In the meantime Australia, let's get this heat cranked up shall we? Oh and bring a few more flies too."

As the day wore on the now familiar rise in temperature approached.  At 4pm Mark tweeted:

"The road is melting. I've got half of Australia's bitumen stuck to my shoes (almost)."

"The darker patches must be avoided. It is literally like running in treacle. #melting #sturthighway"

As Mark was plodding Sturt Highway I had my second encounter with the emergency services.  This time with the police.  Senior Police Constable Mick had passed me an hour earlier as I was pulled in at the side of the road.  He wanted to check that I was ok.  Cue leaflet.  Mick was great to speak to and was amazed at what Mark was doing.  His parting words with me were "good on him, I have trouble running to catch crooks".  A lovely man, he also gave some tips on the roads ahead.

Little did Mark know that all of this was happening, he sent the following tweet:

"I've just been stopped by the police."

"Good on ya mate, I just got a leaflet off your girlfriend. Can't stop, I've gotta catch this car". Shook my hand and went after his target.

Mick then later left a comment on Mark's Facebook page wishing him well for the remainder of his journey.

Just as Mark had commented earlier, there have been so many friendly and support people along the way.  No sooner had Mick left another kind Aussie pulled up alongside!

At around 6pm Mark reported that that his left foot was becoming an issue - the same pain that had stopped him from continuing on day 63.  Mark was adamant that day 64 would not end this way.

Earlier Mark took his, now daily, phone call from Gary and Lisa for a catch up from the previous day.  While he was waiting to speak to them he was listening to Christmas music! It's crazy to think that back home people are frantically shopping for their Christmas Day jumpers and shopping to fill the fridge for a month when the shops are closed for only one day (we've all done it!).

"Very strange to hear Christmas music before I spoke to @garyandlisareal today. I have little concept of time of year these days."

"My life as I knew it is a distant memory. This feels like the bit between death and heaven/hell or even just hell. It's a strange feeling."

"It's almost like I've accepted this to be my eternal fate. I'm ok with it. It feels like there is no end. That's fine."

"I've almost forgotten what my son Jack looks like. I missed his 11th birthday last month. I'll miss him at Christmas."

"Isolation, being in solitude and removal from regular life is a fascinating thing. This no longer feels real."

"Perhaps the flies are people at my bedside. Medical staff prodding needles in or trying to revive me."

"There will be no revival. Just an eternal journey across a land with no cities or people."

"The lesson here is probably not to mix Codeine with a family size bar of Whole Nut at 39 Celsius. #pergatory"

"Imagine running in a mostly desolate wasteland for up to 13 hours a day for 63 days. You'd become a bit paranoid. No?"

"I should mention that the aforementioned codeine has now worn off. Effects last up to 3 hours."

"I can feel multiple pockets of fluid in my feet. This is the kind of pain I had at the end of the run across the USA."

"I'm fine with it. This is what I do now. This is how I'm programmed. #eat #sleep #run #takepainkillers #waveatroadtrain #repeat"

"The doctors will soon stop trying to revive me. I'll then wake up on a beach with clear blue waters and surf as high as a house. #bondi."

"The pain in my feet is getting worse. The RV is just around the corner. Pain is now a normal feeling that I've accepted and I'm used to."

"Australia you are as fascinating as you are beautiful. Going #walkabout gives  time to think and question many things in life."

"What is really important in life becomes very clear on a journey like this. How we treat one another is all that really matters."

"Be kind to people. Say hello. Ask about someone's well being. Respect one another. Perform random acts of kindness."

"That's the end of me preaching. I'm not a religious man but I've had a lot of time to think."

"Despite considerable pain later on day 64 I've really enjoyed it. It's had a bit of everything. Quicker miles were at the start of the day."

"The people of Australia continue to make the days memorable with their kind support."

Day 64 ended with 30.2 miles ran.  This brought the total for 64 days of running to 2108 miles.

Lights out.  Time to do this all over again tomorrow...