28 Jul 2020
October 31st 2015 saw Stephen Wright become our first finisher of Run Down Under. On the 24th February 2018 he was the first to clock up 29,570kms and finish RDU2.
As an inaugural member, Stephen committed to run 1 lap of Australia for each of his 3 grand-kids. So despite other map options becoming available, Stephen decided to head out again and do another lap of Australia. On August 1st 2020, his 3rd lap will be completed and 43,650kms accumulated. And then what?? Well I can tell you he is half way! 3 more grand-kids have arrived, so he is off again on August 2 to start laps 4,5 and 6!
Back when Stephen finished, we didn't have a member profile section of the website, so I emailed him a word document with a few questions. he answered them back then in 2015 and we did some media releases. I'm super proud to share these questions and answers, along with his revised answers recently submitted - as he prepares for the finish of his 3rd lap!
- What is a brief background on your running career?
2015 - I started running to help give up smoking and do something positive in my going nowhere life aged 25, and after struggling to run the mile round my local park daily for a month I started to enjoy how a run left me feeling. Over the years I have journeyed through the competitive phase at various distances and found myself to be a middle of the field plodder, since moving to the long stuff I’ve found I simply enjoy running and moving forwards. I have kept every race number I have run in over my 26 years of running as well as some running diaries over the years, these always raise a smile as I go through them and they stir up vivid memories in me. Most of my training has been alone, in the UK I used to run muddy fields with my dogs before and after work, here in Oz I have found a few running buddies to tread the coastline with, but still most of my running is solo.
2020 - I still mainly run alone, but have so many friends through running now, they act as constant inspiration for me, some have taken to the Coolie runs with me, which makes for mandatory slushie stops on way.
- Take me through the running progress you have made whilst on this journey? Have you been able to increase your mileage since starting?
2015 - It came at the right time for me, as I wanted my 50th year to be a big one running wise and set myself a 5000mile/8000km target, this was a major increase to me, my normal annual total being around 4000km. RDU has tested me, physically and mentally, I have read Ron Grants, Life on the Line over and over during my journey as my source of constant motivation, followed Dave Alley as he runs round Oz for real, ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things. My body has held up pretty well, but I go slow and that must help.
2020 - My running has absorbed me mentally and I’ve become more detached physically, I have found my pain leads me to my happy place where distance and time on my feet moving forwards becomes un-measurable.
- What are some different runs you have done to accumulate the km for Run Down Under?
2015 - I try to run every day if possible so fit in a myriad of different runs, at work it is always laps round the 1.4k walking track so tests me mentally, at home I walk and run everywhere I possibly can, beach, forest, my neighbourhood, for appointments, shopping, etc ( I sold my car as I did not use it… LOL) Races, I don’t get too much opportunity there as working away determines my time… My favourite has to be the Lamington Eco Challenge, a trail marathon through the beautiful Lamington national park Saturday and then again the next day, my local Parkrun at Main Beach always gives my lungs a good workout, I recently visited Alice Springs and ran on the Laparinta trail where I believe I have found my running heaven.
2020 - A few memorable ones these last few years have been UTA100k first attempt where my failure taught me real humility and true respect, I took this to Nerang my first 100miler. Then returned to Nerang for another first, 200miles followed 3 days later by one of my only wins in a race, clocking up 255km at Adelaide 48hr. Then of course my Nirvana, 30 years of me running celebrated at the Adelaide 6 day, another first attempt giving me 604Km.
- Where are your favourite running routes?
2015 - I am blessed to be living on the Gold Coast, so am spoilt for choice being so close to both the beach and Nerang state forest. Two of my favourites are barefoot runs to Burleigh headland and back on sand and from my home to Coolangatta for brekkie, a steady 40km run along the coastline to the Scooterini café for the best post run fuel up where my wife meets me and drives us home.
2020 - Still Coolie runs, they have grown to 50km and my mind enjoys every step of the way.
- What is your age and family background? Any family involvement in Run Down Under as well or just there to support you along your journey?
2015 - I am 51 years young, happily married to Mel for 21 years with 4 children, 2 boys & 2 girls and a beautiful 2 year old granddaughter Kahlia. I have walked with all the family but have only run with Kahlia in a buggy when she was still living with us at home. We covered over 1000km together, me running while she garbled or slept in the stroller. My family are my strength and without their unfailing support I would have stopped running so many times over the years. I used to dedicate all my runs to my late father but this one is definitely for them, my run around Oz for my family of Australian Wrighties.
2020 - Now 56 years young.
- What is your occupation/profession?
2015 - I’m a gas Wellsite lead operator for QGC, working 15/13 roster. Unfortunately this means I live away from home for those 15 days while at work.
2020 - Still work away from home in mines, but Control room operator now, which keeps me inside on my butt 12hrs days then nights.
- How did you hear about Run Down Under? What do you think of the concept?
2015 - Love the idea of 1,000 plus people making their way round Australia working towards their own personal goal to reach the finish line at 14,080km, a great achievement and what a super way to motivate people.
2020 - Same, but numbers grown from 1000, & now we Run the World
- What will it mean to you to be able to complete the 14,000+km and become the first finisher of Run Down Under?
2015 - An incredible achievement, a goal ,a win, a magic moment in my running career. I have a large map of Oz on a wall at home where I plot my progress and love updating it weekly, it will be great to see it completed. To be 1st, now that is a first for me.
2020 - It will be amazing over again, and I still have my map on the wall, I think I’d like to finish this lap with a Coolie run 😊
- Anything else you wish to add? Other notable achievements in your life? Any hardships you have encountered in your life that have provided motivation for you?
2015 - Life is not always easy and we all struggle to make the best of what we have, running has assisted me for the last 26 years to find my way in a positive fashion. I have met some amazing and inspirational people on my journey and wish for this to continue. I have a simple outlook on life and running….. Keep moving forwards.
2020 - I still concentrate on positivity, but my body complains more now, I’ve slowed down and training mileage has become less to preserve my longer races. Motivation is easy, each lap of Australia I run is for each of my grandchildren, at present we have 6, so no stopping me for the foreseeable future.
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