Brisbane to Sydney Run
Image from The Hauraki Herald
Hedgman Runs from Brisbane to Sydney
Andrew Hedgman is not shy of ultra running adventures, the latest in June when he ran from Brisbane to Sydney, a distance just on 1000kms. Some might call this strange or even crazy and they are probably right, why on earth would somebody want to put their body through that kind of stress? We find out!
The Kiwi that resides in Australia started his latest challenge on the 16 in Brisbane and making Sydney by the 30 June. In layman's terms that's over one and a half marathons every day not a simple feat given the two week journey.
In 2010 Hedgman ran the length of New Zealand, more of a personal challenge to see how far he could push his body and mind. "To this day it is still one of the hardest things I have ever done. I suffered from terrible shin splints and tore a muscle in my leg, the extreme terrain of New Zealand and unpredictable weather didn't help a lot either! After the run I had an interview to talk about my experience, I said that I probably wouldn't do it again. I also thought I wouldn't do anything like it again!" Hedgman commented at the time.
Fast forward two years and he was preparing for another run, not quite as long as the New Zealand run but still quite a challenge. "I was preparing to run 1000 km's from Brisbane to Sydney. There were three reasons for this, the first was that I wanted to see if I still had what it takes to run these kinds of distances.
The second reason was that I was about to turn 25, I wanted to celebrate in a unique way, my birthday, June the 30th was my planned date to finish the run. The third and most important reason was I wanted to raise funds and awareness for the animal welfare charity WSPA - The World Society for the Protection of Animals. I had fund-raised for them the year before with a 200 km run I had ran. Learning about how the helped animals suffering around the world made me want to do more, I was already thinking of doing the Brisbane to Sydney run so it seemed to be the perfect combination."
A week before the run had started he was asked by Neil Martin, his support driver for the fifteen day's of running, if he was excited about the run. "I was honest and told him that I wasn't excited. I was afraid it was going to be a repeat of my New Zealand run with injuries, bad weather, exhaustion and other problems that may arise. I was anxious to get started but also quietly nervous at the same time."
One June the 16th Hedgman started off on the run, the first leg was about 60 km's. "I knew I could easily run this distance as I was managing to do back to back 60 km run's in my training, what I was more concerned about was how my body was going to cope after four or five day's of this. The first day went slowly but smoothly, slow because we had to navigate our way out of Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs as well as stopping at intersection after intersection. Once out in the open I was able to get a good pace going right until reaching the Gold Coast." Martin would stop and wait every 10 km's so Hedgman could eat, refill his water and do anything else that was needed. However it was a technical issue that struck first "It wasn't until the very end of the day where I had my first major problem, my phone had suddenly and unexpectedly died, I knew what street Neil was waiting for me on however once getting there he was nowhere to be found. I ran up and down the streets looking for him but to no avail! Stressed and not knowing what to do I found a service station where they were able to charge my phone and I could finally call him, he had been asleep and had no idea how long I was gone for, he asked if I had read the txt he had sent me earlier which said that he had moved up the street as there was nowhere for him to park, at the time it was a horrible situation but I guess it's funny to look back at now!"
Every morning for breakfast Hedgman would usually have a bowel of cereal and toast, sometimes a piece of fruit too. "For dinner I would mix it up and have a combination of carbs and proteins, never any meat though as I'm a vegetarian. It was a lot different though during each day's run, I would eat a lot of processed food such as choc chip biscuits, snickers bars, salt and vinegar chips and muesli bars. I had to keep my calorie intake up throughout each day so it was essential to get these sorts of food into me. I did find that at the end of every day for the fifteen I was never fatigued at all, when running the length of NZ I was usually quite fatigued by the last 10 - 20 km's. I could probably put it down to my transition from an omnivore diet to a vegetarian diet, the difference was amazing!"
The next few days went very smoothly for Hedgman, his body was holding up much better than expected with hardly any issues at all. "I did start to get a few sore spots on my legs but the worst was my left thigh. Usually in the last 20 or 30 km's it would start to get quite sore, it was bearable and not sore enough to slow me down so I would soldier on. It was around day seven where my thigh actually did start to slow me down, usually if something started to hurt I would just strap it up with some sports tape and the pain would disappear. I couldn't do this with my thigh though as any pressure on it would make the pain worse, I eventually took a couple of anti inflammatory tablets which helped a lot. The rest of the day was perfect and managed to knock out 70 km's in about eight hours!"
Hedgman had great weather for the majority of the run, most day's had crystal clear sky's with not a cloud to be seen anywhere. Sometimes the mornings were a bit cold but it would generally warm up with a slight crisp and cool breeze. By the afternoon of day eleven it started to rain however this only lasted until the end of the next day and then they were back with rich blue sky's! "I was very happy with how the weather went throughout the run, about a week before starting it was terrible in both Brisbane and Sydney. In Sydney it was so bad that there was even flooding in some areas, that was one of my biggest concerns before starting off, thankfully I picked the perfect dates to run!" The final three day's went off with little drama. On the second to last day Hedgman did manage to get off course at one point which added on another couple of kilometers but he was in good spirits, it did however turn out to be the longest day on the road, ten hours in total. "I had a fellow runner Rodger Hanney from Hoka One One shoes come out and join me for the last 50 km's of the day which made the time seem to pass very quick. For the last few kilometers of that day Roger really picked up the pace and we were running around five minute kilometers which isn't too bad after 940 km's of running!"
The final day of the run was also the shortest at just under 50 km's. Hedgman set off at 8am giving himself more than enough time to finish up at the Opera House by 3pm. "I almost got attacked by a very angry dog that didn't seem to like me near the house that I was running past, I tried to let him know I was running for WSPA but he was having none of it! He followed me up the road until I was far away from his place before he turned around, that was a relief! I ran most of the day with another runner named Matt, a primary school teacher, I spoke to him for most of the run which was nice. We had to stop and sometimes walk as I was way in front of schedule. Matt left me to finish the last few km's by myself, I did invite him to come along but he insisted that I should enjoy it alone." Down into the final strides of his ultra run the Aussie iconic landmarks were there to greet him. "I only had a couple of kilometers left as I was running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge when it really struck me that I had done it, I could see the Opera House over the water and just like when I finished my run of New Zealand the emotions of the whole journey started to pour through. I managed to dodge through the hundreds of people along the walkway towards the Opera House until I heard claps and cheers from a small group of friends, Neil, and WSPA workers holding a WSPA sign. A massive grin came across my face while completing the last few steps and then I was finally there. It wasn't until someone shouted happy birthday to me when I remembered that it was indeed my birthday, it will probably be one of the more memorable birthdays that I have had!"
"Running the length of New Zealand has been my biggest achievement for running however the Brisbane to Sydney run is by far the most enjoyable and satisfying run I have ever done. Enjoyable by being able to enjoy every day with no injuries and no fatigue, also by having another fantastic support person, Neil, with me for the entire journey. Satisfying by being able to do it for such an amazing and worthy cause. We met some very kind and generous people and stayed in some of the most amazing places, places I would have never visited if it wasn't for this run. I said I would probably never run the length of New Zealand again, would I run from Brisbane to Sydney again? I probably would, it was a great experience!" he reflected.
Given a small break Hedgman was soon back into the sport he loves, preparing for a new challenge. "I only gave myself a week off from running after my 15 day run, I didn't have time to waste as I am heading to Turkey in September for the Lycian Way Ultramarathon, a self sufficient, 250 km, six stage race that covers part of the ancient Lycian Way. This run will finally put my running to the test to see how well I do racing against other competitors day after day. I am confident that I can last the distance for each day, it's the speed that I do it in which is what I will be focusing on in my training. No matter what happens though, it will no doubt be a mind blowing experience and yet another adventure to add to the book!" We wish Andrew all the best for his future adventures.
Andrew is still accepting donations through his WSPA Everyday Hero page, Click Here to donate.