On Monday, Jan. 16, Erchana Murray-Bartlett woke up early, ate a bowl of cereal and a banana, and started running, as she had been doing for the previous 149 days. This day was her last, though, and a celebration was in order once she hit her final destination of Melbourne. Murray-Bartlett raised funds and awareness for Australia’s endangered animals throughout her run, far surpassing her initial goal of $62,000 AUS with an end total of $128,000.
Murray-Bartlett began running from Cape York, Australia, to Melbourne (the tip of the toe of Australia, inspiring the name of her fundraiser, “tip to toe 2022”) on a warm morning in August. On Dec. 3, 107 days later, she achieved one of her goals–setting the Guinness World Record (GWR) for running the most marathons in a row by a woman. She had no plan to stop until she reached marathon 150, and Murray-Bartlett does not let anything get in her way.
When Murray-Bartlett surpassed the GWR (at 107 consecutive marathons), we managed to chat with her in between running, recovery and spreading awareness (she crams a lot into a day), and you can read that here.
At that point, her journey was not yet complete. We caught up with Murray-Bartlett one week post–run to hear all about final third of her cross-Australia marathon-a-day accomplishment.
CR: Congrats is not really enough to encompass such an accomplishment! What are the stats from your journey?
All the fun stats are here:
- Funds raised: $128,000 AUS–for The Wilderness Society.
- Total distance: 6,336.62 km
- Time: 632 hrs 32 mins
- Avg. heart rate: 125 bpm
- Average pace: 5:59 min/km
- Fastest pace: 3:41 min/km
- Total number of bananas consumed: 230
- Total elevation ascended: 54,624 metres
- Total elevation descent: 55,732 metres
- Max elevation: 1,902 m
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CR: How do you feel right now, mentally and physically?
Surprisingly my body felt great for the first few days, right up until I dropped my family back off to the airport (three days later). I even went for a small run in the morning. That afternoon, though, I slept for about two hours, and about 10 hours that night.
I am actually feeling more and more tired with each day that passes, which is reinforcing the need to respect recovery. It feels very strange waking up in broad daylight and doing nothing except walking down the street for a coffee.
I am already thinking about ways to set up the next project, and my mind needs to listen to my body, which is screaming at it to slow down. I’m reminding myself that it’s OK to slow down-for a little while, at least.
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CR: Best thing you ate the entire run?
My partner is vegetarian and as he did 90 per cent of the cooking, I predominantly am, too. I was able to run the entire thing 99 per cent plant-based, and feel happy and healthy the whole way. We had a rotating menu of lentil pasta, chickpea curry and tempeh stir fry, as our cooking options were a stovetop.
One key standout meal happened when we camped in a site that offered wood-fired pizzas. If you brought it, they would cook it in their massive open-fire oven. We made the dough from scratch, treated ourselves to fancy toppings (olives, sundried tomatoes and goat feta) and even opened a bottle of red wine.
I also ate cereal every morning, which I would never do in normal life and loved it–banana, chai seeds, peanut butter, yum!
CR: Hardest day? Or just biggest challenge?
My worst day of running was around day 55 in Bowen, QLD. The route took me 42 km down a busy highway littered with roadworks removing the only shoulder to run down. I had cars flying past me, with no room to misstep and trucks and construction tractors constantly stopping my flow.
It was raining with a headwind the entire way, and I lost my headphones 10 km in and watched them get run over by a passing car. I even got relentlessly swooped by a magpie. I remember finishing and thinking “if tomorrow is like this, I am not going to make it.”
In hindsight, these days make you appreciate the beautiful runs, but it sure was a battle that day. It was the only day I felt like I was going to war with the run, rather than embracing the journey.
CR: What is next for you in life and running?
Right now, I am taking a moment to reflect and recover without putting too much pressure on myself. I had four to five hours of thinking time out there on the road each day, and have about a thousand ideas for what’s next.
Now, I need to focus and think about what is best for my body and for me as a runner and human. I know that whatever it is, it will have a key focus on conservation.
Oh, and I am currently uploading all the evidence to Guinness to have the record verified. It takes a long time to download and upload 150 GPS files.