My ears pricked up when I heard a news item about a chap who this very day started an attempt on the record for crossing the Simpson Desert on foot. John Howe, 27, started from Alka Seltzer Bore, which is where the sand hills begin, about 50 km east of Dalhousie Springs in the far north of South Australia. He apparently plans to run non-stop (including through the night, aided by the lights of his support vehicles) until he reaches Birdsville, a distance of 379 kms, with about 1100 sandhills to cross along the way.
The record of three days, eight hours and 37 minutes is held by marathon runner Pat Farmer. Somewhat surprisingly, Mr Howe says he is looking forward to a drink and a nap once he reaches Birdsville. (A bit of a wuss, I hear you say. A drink, yes, but “a nap” sounds a bit – well, wouldn’t you want to party on for a while after running for about 80 hours?)
See the full news article at http://au.news.yahoo.com/technology/news/article/-/16397282/runner-attempts-desert-crossing-record/ .
Some readers will have done the Simpson crossing in a heavily laden 4wd, complete with jerry cans of fuel, spare wheels, high-lift jack, crates of food, etc, and probably taken not much less time than Pat Farmer. But in anticipation of this recent news causing a flood of enquiries from readers who want to try it for themselves without a 4wd, I’m happy to provide information about forthcoming events which may interest you. Indeed it seems that a new hazard for the 4wd people this year will be avoiding the pedestrians and cyclists!
Youngcare is sponsoring the “Simpson Desert Challenge” from 9-19 May. Sixteen people are each committed to raising $35,000 support for young people with disabilities as they spend eight days walking 300 km across the desert. See http://www.youngcare.com.au/simpsondesert .
Bravehearts is sponsoring a 320 km walk, a different “Simpson Desert Challenge”, lasting 9-10 days from 6-16 June, on what sounds like a fairly obscure route (starting at “East Bore”, and ending at Birdsville). See http://www.braveheartsadventures.com.au/current-adventures/simpson-desert.html .
The Born to Run Foundation is organising three events in the period 8-13 July. The Big Red Run is mainly in the Birdsville area, and is described as “five marathons in six days” (a total of 250 km). Then there’s the Born to Run 100 kms – all done in one day. The Big Red Dash is a single marathon (42 km) which includes running up Big Red. By the way, “Big Red” is the highest sandhill of the Simpson Desert crossing, and not far from Birdsville. See http://www.bigredrun.com.au/ .
Multimarathon is organising the Simpson Desert Ultramarathon 2013, starting on 15th September from the Lambert Centre, a spot west of Finke near the Northern Territory/South Australia border, said to be the precise geographical centre of Australia (whatever that means). The race then goes to Finke, Mt Dare, Dalhousie Springs, and along the French Line to Birdsville, a total of 650 kms in 11 days. See http://www.multimarathon.com.au/home/ .
For those not up to doing it on foot, you can ride your bike instead. On October 1st, the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge will leave from Purni Bore (near Alka Seltzer Bore) and follow a 570 km route across the desert, using some of the alternative tracks (including 700 sand dunes), and ending at Birdsville. It’s to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. See http://www.desertchallenge.org/ .
So there you are. If you’ve always dreamt of walking, running or cycling over lots and lots of sandhills, this could be your big opportunity. Don’t waste your life watching lame TV programs. Carpe diem!