Finishing my 5km run with burning legs and heaving chest I think of my closest friend, Brad Carron-Arthur who ran at least ten times that distance every day for the past four months.
Brad, a 22 year old former ANU Psychology student, set out from Canberra on the 1st of January this year, running solo and unassisted up the East Coast of Australia. On the 10th of May Brad reached Cape York, the northernmost tip of the continent, after four months and 5000km of running. Brad documented his journey via blogs and video-logs, a GPS sports-tracker, and many amazing pictures on his Facebook page and website. He named his adventure ‘Brad Runs North.’
As I relay Brad’s story to others I am often met with looks of shock and disbelief. The first question is usually “Why on earth would someone do that?” shortly followed by “How is that even possible?”
Rather than a Forest Gump-style aimless run, Brad’s journey was carefully planned and motivated by a number of factors. Finishing his Honours year in 2011, Brad was faced with the daunting freedom experienced by many graduates. Like some, he decided to take some time for travel and self-discovery. However, unlike most, instead of boozing around Europe or backpacking in Asia, Brad wanted an extreme physical challenge and adventure in his own country. In doing this, he has seen and experienced the beauty of Australia and the hospitality and friendliness of its people which many of us often miss for the sake of travel overseas.
Brad’s epic run was also motivated by a particular fear. For a number of years Brad has been haunted by a beer advertisement which referred to a category of men who ‘peaked in high school’. An excellent sportsman at school, Brad feared he would end up in the category of guys whose physical accomplishments reached their zenith during their teenage years. As a way of ensuring this would not come to pass, Brad ran north for 5000km!
Lastly and most importantly, through his run Brad has raised over $20,000 for the charity AFFIRM (Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research.) As one of his close family members struggled with depression for many years, raising money for a charity of this kind held a special significance for Brad.
But how did a 22 year old run for thousands of kilometres unassisted? Needless to say, Brad has an excellent sense of direction. He carried with him one backpack stocked with essentials such as; a map, a spare shirt, socks and underwear, a first-aid kit, a phone and a credit card. His route followed the coastline, staying off highways and instead sticking to fire trails and tracks. He ran approximately 50km a day, some days running over 100km and taking days off when he needed. He ran from town to town, sleeping in hostels, or with people who, hearing of his journey, offered their homes. The last leg of the trip from Cairns to Cape York proved especially challenging; the sheer remoteness, distance between towns, heat, humidity and wild animals all adding to the fun/challenge.
So what’s next in store for Brad? Upon his return in Canberra in late May he will be taking a small, well-deserved rest before continuing his fund-raising efforts for AFFIRM by hosting a charity dinner in June. After that, he is likely to continue studying in order to pursue a career in sports-psychology, helping other, physically gifted people achieve their potential. He also hasn’t ruled out more trans-continental, adventure runs in the future.
For more information and pictures from Brad’s run and to donate to AFFIRM, visit http://bradrunsnorth.com/