365 marathons in 365 days

Last updated 15:09 31/12/2013
Fairfax Australia

As she ends the final leg of a year-long mission to run Australia, Janette Murray-Wakelin talks about how her and partner Alan Murray tackled the journey.

ON THE RUN: Alan Murray and Janette Murray-Wakelin in action.
run map
ALL DONE: The couple's race plan.

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As a New Year's resolution it was a little extreme. At the start of 2013, Melbourne couple Janette Murray-Wakelin, 64, and Alan Murray, 68, set out to run around Australia for a year, completing a marathon a day.

That's 365 marathons, or more than 15,000 kilometres. With no day off.

About 5pm (NZT) today, barring a catastrophe, they will achieve their goal, jogging triumphantly up St Kilda Road to their starting point, Federation Square.

Oh, and tomorrow, New Year's Day, from 5am, they will run one more marathon - 44 kilometres home to Warrandyte along the Yarra Trail to set a new world record for the most consecutive marathons.

Far from exhaustion, Murray-Wakelin feels she could "run forever", energised by comments on their Facebook page from as far as Romania, that the Murrays had inspired them.

The Murrays are raw vegans, They each eat up to 30 bananas a day, munch on fresh peaches, nectarines and apricots, and have up to 4 kilograms of greens, including smoothies of kale, spinach and silver beet.

Murray-Wakelin was a fit vegan before being diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago but afterwards, she gave up cooked food including pasta and rice and bought more locally grown and organic food.

The aim of the round Australia trip, Running Raw Around Australia, is to raise money for four charities - Animals Australia, the Gawler Foundation, the Australian Paralympic Committee and Kids Under Cover - but also to promote kindness to others and healthy eating and exercise.

On Christmas Day, while Australia gorged on bubbly, turkey and cake, the Murrays jogged their usual marathon, this time along Tasmania's South Cape Trail, accompanied by a friend from Canada. Later they feasted on fresh berries and a pudding made of soaked dried fruit and almond meal.

Murray-Wakelin said on Monday there were just a few days when she resented getting up before 4am and running for six hours.

One was missing the birth of her fifth grandchild, Marlo, in Melbourne in June. Most others related to weather. There were days of "horrendous heat", and they skirted a cyclone, floods and a bushfire.

One day just north of Perth in October, the horizontal rain turned to hail and they felt hypothermic. In a half-hour break in their support van, they dried off and changed clothes. The weather didn't improve, but after a vegetable smoothie, Janette and Alan stepped back out into the hail and kept jogging.

Perhaps the most unusual event was in southern Queensland, when a man pulled over on his motorbike, called out "Janette", and revealed he was a cousin she hadn't seen in 45 years. But he was in a rush on his way to work, said "good to see ya" and drove off.

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Wakelin-Murray says she's looking forward to sleeping in and hugging her grandchildren. The following day she's likely to go for a run. "You don't stop doing something that works."

Her 2014 resolution is to write a book and make a documentary about the runs, and to tour Australia - by plane - promoting a raw food and fitness lifestyle.

She hopes she and Alan have made a splash, to show people "how limitless the possibilities are, if you're in a state of optimum health".

- Sydney Morning Herald


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