Down Under – Four Seasons in One Month

It takes a while to acclimatise to temperature extremes. Having run through 42 degree celsius (in the shade, around 55 in the sun!) across India I wasn’t exactly converted from a sun dodging pale skinned red head into a sun worshiper, but I was kind of used to being hot all day long.

I landed in Perth to 39 degree days, however the humidity was down at about 50% compared with India – it was beautiful! It was still far too hot to run through though, particularly  when having to carry your own water between towns, even more so when said towns are over 200km apart!

I left Perth on a completely nocturnal timetable, running through the night and sleeping during the day. I improvised a camp from equipment picked up in a hardware store, Perth.

The foil tarpaulin is designed to block 100% of UV radiation in order to protect boats/cars paintwork being damaged by the hard Australian sun, I figured it’d protect my pale Celtic skin just as well!

It was difficult to sleep in the heat but after a couple weeks I was managing to get some rest. After 6 weeks the temperatures began to drop slightly so I began running two blocks a day 5am-10am and then 6pm to 9pm, it was easier on the body clock to sleep through the night and have a rest during the main heat of the day.

This wouldn’t have been possible when I left Perth as it was oppressively hot even first thing in the morning!

I now had two camp set ups, the foil tarp was only necessary to block U.V radiation as it rarely rained without warning! Here I just used the insect net and the groundsheet, it was quicker to set up and strike camp, plus it gave me superior views to the endless stars of the desert night.

Finally, a couple weeks later I was able to run through the day. Towns were much closer together and so I didn’t need tocarry so much water, justenough to match the added sweat of running in the heat versus the cool of the night. The temperature also finally dropped to 18-22 degrees most of the day – a bearable heat for endurance running.

As the temperatures dropped it became less settled, more thunderstorms and heavy rain so I returned to the comfort of my tent for the rest of the run.

The last two weeks into Sydney were unseasonably warm, an Indian summer (as if I needed two in 3 months!). Iit was hovering around 26-28 degrees, which felt pretty hot compared to the 18 degrees of the previous few weeks.

The biggest shock was the short hop from Sydney to Queenstown, New Zealand.  The first day running  here it dropped to -2 with wind chill. When you’ve become used to not going much below 25 for 4.5 months that’s a real shock to the body.

I managed to run okay but when I stopped to eat I just felt sick due to the rapid temperature changes.

It took me a whole week of running to find a layering system I could run in without feeling sick when I stopped running or sweaty, and hence freezing cold whilst running. It’s difficult to manage and means adjusting layers all day long. When I started running the morning into Dunedin it was -2 in Milton without wind chill and around -8 with wind chill, by lunchtime it was a very mild 12 degrees and by 5.30pm when I finished it was back down to 5 degrees. It’s frustrating changing layers all day long but an absolute must.

As soon as your clothing becomes damp with sweat in a cold environment, it’s impossible for you to maintain warmth.

My arrival in NZ meant that seam sealing and re-waterproofing my kit was a high priority. It’s cold here but guaranteed to be wet also, very wet!

The first week in New Zealand I ran past the remarkable mountains (yes that’s the name of the range ‘the Remarkables’ ) from Queenstown airport to Kingston, Lumsden, Gore and Owaka. One of my sisters lives in Owaka and it was amazing to catch up with her after not seeing each other for almost three years.  It was a highlight  to run itno Dunedin on the Saturday where I met my Sister and brother in law in time to watch England almost beat the All Blacks on the Rugby pitch – incredible timing!

I’m back on the road heading north-east towards Auckland now, should be one month of running before I arrive in North America, just in time for another massive temperature change!


Leave a Reply