COLAC long-distance runner Helen Bourk rates the Australian Outback Marathon as her most inspiring challenge yet.
“This was my fourth marathon in the last couple of years and by far the best,” Mrs Bourk said.
The 63-year-old said running next to places like Australian landmark Uluru and often alone was like no other experience, which topped previous marathons she had run in Tasmania, South Africa and on the Gold Coast.
“How I’d describe the outback marathon is the desert, sand, red dirt, sand dunes, hot and no shade for 42.2 kilometres, but the best marathon run I’ve ever done,” she said.
“It was very unique, at one stage I was out there and there wasn’t a soul behind or in front of me, it was just awe-inspiring, the silence and the vastness of the land and desert.”
Mrs Bourk finished the gruelling course in around five-and-a-half hours and said she was pleased with the result considering the difficult landscape and temperatures hovering near 26 degrees.
“That was good, I’ve done marathons in just over five hours, but that was a lot tougher conditions,” she said.
“It was a completely different environment and you’ve got to run to those conditions.”
Mrs Bourk travelled with a tour company for Saturday’s race and said honouring the traditional aspects of the land she competed on was a highlight of the trip.
“We had a welcome ceremony from the traditional people of the land and then on Sunday night they took us out into the middle of the desert for a multi-course dinner,” she said.
“We saw the Milky Way and all the stars, and it was just brilliant – a very beautiful cultural experience up there.”
The mother of three and grandmother of 10 isn’t planning to stop her marathon exploits and said a trip with her granddaughter Colac’s Jess Jarvis was on her wish list.
“My granddaughter Jess wants to run a marathon with me and we’ll look at our options,” she said.
“We’re hoping to do one in the wineries in France, which is a bit different, and a bit of fun, where you have wine and cheese as well as water at the stops, it’s very difficult to get in, but that’s our aim to do that one.
“All my grandkids love it when I run a marathon.”