Etsuko Yasunaga

In just less than two years and two months I’ve reached 10,000 km. Then I arrived at Eucla two weeks ago, and was invited to write about my journey so far. As a writer I couldn’t miss an opportunity like that.

The last two weeks during my solitary walks, I’ve been thinking how far I have come, not just in terms of distance, and what RDU has done for me since I started. Inverloch parkrun had already ignited a desire for me to run in May 2018 and I became a gold level parkrun obsessive in 2019, attending 50 parkrun events in a year. In terms of running, I was content with once a week parkrun for a long time. From time to time I saw some people wearing RDU tops, and wondered about RDU. The word ‘Run’ Down Under stopped me from joining because I was more of a walker and only 5km per week runner back then.

I checked the website and was pleased to find out walks could be included. A tiny seed was planted in my mind that I might be able to do this. I joined RDU on 17/1/2020, backdated to 1/1/2020. Still the enormity of the total distance of 14,080 km was daunting at the start. The estimated finish date was far away however I didn’t pay much attention to it. The only thing I focused was to set my intention and commit to what I set my mind to. I considered this enormous undertaking as a long term challenge of 3 to 4 years. I figured that if I do 10km a day I would reach 3,650km per year, and I would cover the total distance within 4 years. I was comfortable with my set distance, and committed to it no matter what, except if I were injured. Oh boy what a commitment I had set myself, I thought on some struggling days. Other days I was cruising, surpassing my daily target easily, and reaching nearly a half-marathon distance in one day.

Walking became a very important part of my life, and I can’t think of a day without walking. The next milestones and towns to reach continue to motivate me without losing focus. Throughout the year Travis provides us with plenty of challenges both individually and as a team. Every time I have taken on a challenge I have grown to become a stronger athlete, not only physically but mentally. With the mental strength I cultivated, I managed to run a half marathon in November 2020, which is still the highlight of my achievements.

Throughout my life I’ve always been determined but taking on the RDU challenge certainly made me even more determined. I’ve become focused and accountable in everything I do. At the same time I learned to accept not to chase a number for just the number’s sake. The distance we chase has to be realistic and within our own capability. Numbers, especially big ones can be so alluring but a very important thing to remember is that numbers are infinite. There will be always the next kilometre to chase after an exhausting day if we don’t know how to and when to stop.

There is a Japanese expression Three years sitting on the rock. What happens when you sit on a rock for 3 years? It eventually gets warm. This proverb means that even though you may seem to be going through hard times and with little progress, something will change eventually, and things will get better. This Japanese saying teaches us that nothing of value comes without effort. Perseverance wins in the end and endurance is a virtue. As I envisage my finishing line early next year, I simply can’t wait to celebrate it with my fellow runners and walkers of Wonthaggi Road Runners, Inverloch and Koonwarra parkrun.