Home' Navy News : May 24th 2012 Contents FREE CERT IV
May 24, 2012
Race of a lifetime
IHAVE never run a marathon, let alone an ultra
marathon, but the inaugural Special Forces
200km extreme ultra marathon was an itch I
just had to scratch.
Everyone around me said I was mad for
even contemplating it, but that just inspired
As a reservist and shameless adrenaline-
junkie I continuously seek to challenge myself
physically and mentally; my philosophy being,
you never know what you are capable of until
After completing the Kokoda Track earlier
this year, the ultra marathon, which retraced
the route of the Sandakan Death March in
Borneo in World War II, beckoned as an excit-
ing test of character and personal fitness.
Apart from the personal challenge, this
event also enabled me to pay tribute to the
1800 Australian POWs who perished during
the Sandakan death marches.
Organised by Sabah Adventure Travel,
Malaysia's first 200km ultra marathon attract-
ed nine of us (two Australians, two Brits, four
Malaysians and one Singaporean).
The race commenced with great fanfare
and local media at Ranau on April 29 and con-
cluded 200km later in Sandakan on May 2.
Day one saw us run for 50km, followed by
35km on day two, then 8km in dense jungle
on day three, followed by 35km on day four
and finally, a massive 66.7km on the last day.
I was well read on the Sandakan death
marches so my thoughts during the race
often turned to the hapless POWs who were
cruelly murdered by the Japanese when they
became too weak to serve as porters.
The agony the Aussie POWs endured
meant I never dared surrender to the tempta-
tion of giving up in the face of delirium-induc-
ing fatigue, intense muscular pain and the
unrelenting scorching sun.
It was national pride as much as the
knowledge that I would have let myself down
if I didn't finish that kept me going through 37
degree heat and suffocating humidity.
Ultimately, I finished fifth in a time of 39.5
hours, which wasn't too bad considering I was
coming last on day one after straining my right
patellar tendon and last again on day three
when I got lost in the jungle.
Day five was clearly the most gruelling.
The end was in sight, but after only seven
hours rest from the 35km run the day before,
we set out at midnight for the last 66.7km
which I completed in 13 hours, some three
hours faster than the last four competitors.
Strangely, I felt only mild relief at not hav-
ing failed this challenge, rather than wild
euphoria at having completed my first ultra
Though my feet are still blistered and my
knees agonisingly sore and swollen, I am
searching for my next challenge, the most
appealing being a 250km ultra marathon in
Libya where my grandfather fought Rommel's
It seems that mine is a journey of self-dis-
covery as much as a rare opportunity to walk
in the footsteps of Australian heroes.
Navy News reporter Michael Brooke likes a challenge. From April 29 --
May 2 he took on the inaugural extreme ultra marathon in Borneo and
shares his experience.
Photo: George Chong
Photo: Rabini HM Ayub
SEVERAL members of the Navy Adventure
Racing Association (NARA) participated in
the Tough Mudder at Phillip Island on April 1.
The 19km course at the Grand Prix circuit
encouraged teamwork, camaraderie and help-
ing fellow race members.
Teams faced 27 obstacles including several
three-metre high walls, underground mud tun-
nels and electrified obstacles.
Participants headed off in waves of about
200 people every 15 minutes during the
course of the day and took anywhere up to
five hours to finish.
All NARA competitors enjoyed the event
and highly recommend the Tough Mudder in
Sydney later in the year.
Tough team challenge
TEAMWORK: HMAS Albatross NARA members celebrate
after finishing. From left, LCDR Steve Arney, CMDR Gary
Holgate, CPO Raimund Winkler and LCDR Cliff Kyle.
TOUGH LOVE: PO
Kate Taylor, of HMAS
Cerberus, and husband
SBLT Shaun Taylor, of
RMIT, after completing
the Tough Mudder.
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