Timothy Horton

I started Run Down Under (RDU) in January 2015 and enjoyed the idea of giving myself a weekly or monthly distance challenge and a bit more structure to repeated training blocks. 2015 was my most successful running year with a trip to North America to run Boston Marathon having qualified the year before. On that trip, every major stop involved a run: Vancouver Half; a Half and a 10km at Disneyland; and a 10km in Honolulu on the way home. 

I was doing well and believed that RDU going to be easy until I was virtually in the North-West of WA. Then wheels fell off! 

In 2017 and I struggled with most events. At the McLaren Vale Half, I had a cardiac event which was later diagnosed as Atrial Fibrillation. At that appointment the Cardiologist made a comment that turned out to be very accurate. He said that athletes with cardiac problems were very hard to treat because they could have severe disease with no symptoms or symptoms which were totally different from the majority of people seen in the cardiac clinics. The AFib rapidly became very symptomatic so I had a Cardiac Ablation in March 2018. I attempted to get back to training and events after the ablation but with only limited success. I could do a fast walk but running was almost impossible. Testing in late 2018 and early 2019 disclosed 2 significant narrow areas/blockages in the Coronary Arteries. That was quite a surprise as I had never had any chest pain or shortness of breath which are the usual symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease. In March 2019, I had open heart surgery for a double bypass. Recovery was good mostly due to pre-surgical fitness. During the recovery phase, I finally crossed out of WA into SA on RDU. I was able to walk a marathon about 4 months after the surgery, although improvement with speed has been elusive. Most of the problem for the first year post -op was in my head. When I ran hard there was the fear that I would damage something with the new plumbing. At least RDU kept me moving even if a larger proportion was walking rather than running. 

RDU was finished in March 2020. A bit of a non-event as it was in the middle of a COVID lockdown and the final kilometres were done on a treadmill. Not quite the successful journey that I expected when I started but like I did after my first marathon, I went back to try and get it right. (for the record, I still haven’t had a marathon where everything goes right) 

RDU2 was started straight after the finish of the initial loop. 

I am pleased that this loop has been without incidents. I had silenced the worries and it was back to running and trying to improve the times. Unfortunately, it is a bit like starting again and it’s taking time to build leg strength for speed and duration. I’m on the wrong end of the age curve to get quick adaptation from training (Age 68 for 2023). The highlight of RDU2 was reaching 100 marathons in 2021. Part of being able to achieve this is due to Chris Glacken at his Coastal Fun Run events as he and his volunteers were happy to give flexible and sufficiently long cutoff times that enabled me to complete the distance (when I was slow and walking a lot) with more confidence than many of the more commercial events. Once speed improved, I completed (none raced) 21 marathons in 2022. 

The other runs that I found very helpful during recovery were with parkrun Australia. Their volunteers were always supportive especially in the early days when I struggled to run. Somehow parkrun and Run the World seem to mesh very nicely so it is appropriate that the Adelaide Event day is linked to a parkrun event. 

Another group that needs a bit of a plug is Cardiac Athletes. There are a few CA members who running a map of Run the World but the main activity is via a closed Facebook group. The group exists to support athletes who develop cardiac problems and to demonstrate that cardiac problems do not necessarily mean you have to give up sport of athletic pursuits. 

Gold Coast was a great weekend for me. Marathon number 118 and although I ran the Half on the Saturday, my marathon time on Sunday was good enough to be in the middle of my age category and was my fastest 42.2 since 2016. There’s still work to be done on leg strength but I finally feel like I’m back as a runner. I’m looking forward to Adelaide Marathon at the end of August. 

New Zealand map is next for Run the World.