It’s strange what can ignite a memory… Today’s came while I was at my exercise training camp, that I subject myself to 3 times a week at 6.30am. Crazy I know! However if you’d seen the results we have seen from our trainer (Zara Redford) – you would believe that it’s well worth it! Anyhow we are currently slamming ropes, hurling kettle-bells and sprinting with everything we have.
My flashback came whilst I was running, now I am no professional runner, although my friend Mike keeps referring to me as Mo Farah. It’s probably been 6 months on and off, but at one point I was pushing myself to the 12 mile mark. As these sessions start at 6.30am the weather is usually quite fresh but as it’s the start of summer we usually don’t get too much rain.
All of a sudden I wasn’t in the green park in Tring, I was no longer running on dew wet grass, and it was warm… really warm. I was running on a beach, Fraser Island in Queensland Australia to be exact, although 6am in the morning it was hot already and why was I running?
Story starts as I was living and working in Sydney Australia in 2006/7, and I was taking some time out to travel the east coast. The eastern coast of Australia is renowned as the backpackers route, with many different locations to visit, the majority by the glistening Pacific ocean. I was already travelling with a group for a while, including one of my good mates from America and we were having some great experiences. This one was no exception; we had bought a group camping trip to the largest sand island in the world.
I won’t bore you with too much detail, but it was a melting pot of travellers placed into a 12 berth 4×4 and let loose on an island pretty much to fend for themselves. Sounds a bit like a Bear Grylls expedition, but really it wasn’t that challenging, it was more like a quick sightseeing followed by beach parties and BBQ’s.
Fraser Island sites were awe-inspiring, I kid you not… from crystal clear deserted fresh water lakes, to dramatic cliff scenery watching sharks and whales whip up and down the coastline. Not to forget a beached ship wreck on the long creamy sand beach, the inner island forest and meagre sand roads… the place is magical and simply unmissable. One location called Lake McKenzie still sticks in my mind, and although none of my words will do it justice, it was simply one of the most dramatically stunning locations I have visited even now!
They say that it’s not always about location, but also the people you travel with that make an unforgettable experience, well we were lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. Our group all were all likeminded, adventurous and outgoing. The majority of us clicked which was amazing since we were literally 12 strangers just the day before. Its funny how that happens when backpacking it’s a sort of mentality, all of a sudden you are chatting and drinking with guys you have very little in common with and girls who, well in this case, were well out of your league! It’s just a great way of life and very different to normal day life at home.
Anyhow after a crazy beach party, some very sandy food, and a huge amount of alcohol (I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). I had woken up with a very swollen head and an extreme need for the bathroom…
As I exited my increasingly warm tent, it was light enough to assess my surroundings and through my sleepy eyes I saw my friend’s feet sticking out of his tent, he had collapsed on his tent earlier instead of inside of it! But, what the fuck was that… A dingo, an actual live dingo was up close and personal sniffing his feet… What to do? what to do? Not really making that decision I stumbled towards it and that luckily seemed to work as the wild dog turned its head, looked me straight in the eyes and raced back into the forest.
Upon my return I was greeted by another one of the group who had arisen early to go for a run! A RUN! At 6am in the morning and when we had only be en in bed a few hours at most… the dreaded question then came… wanna come? Now the underlying contributing factor to my resounding answer of ‘Yes’, was of course the beautiful Danish girl sitting on the sandbank watching…
It’s funny what you can do when a beautiful girl is watching! So all of a sudden I was running, along a stunning cream sand beach in the middle of essentially what was a desert island on the other side of the world. Mental note – I could never run, not as a child, a student, a mid 20’s, it wasn’t something I could ever do but there I was keeping up a good pace with my new friend who was running besides me like a pro.
It was liberating, the sand collapsing between my feet, the periodic lapping of the sea water over my ankles, and the warm sun beating down on my tormented head. Wow! As I continued with my extremely heavy breathing/panting, I remember taking a moment to reflect on where I was, what I was doing, how this was changing my whole mentality… These are the stories and the experiences that would last a lifetime and ones that would be encased as a wandering memory.
I’ll leave the rest of the story for another day, but hasten to say it wasn’t the fairy-tale ending you may expect. In pretty much put too much into the run and forgot about the route back, so limped my way back. I never saw the Danish girl again, and on top of that missed breakfast which was complete by the time I got back… Ha! That’s real life for you…