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From hospital bed to six-day, 250km desert run

IN TRAINING: Neil Collie runs trails around the scenic Glass House Mountains area in preparation for the 250km Big Red Run.
IN TRAINING: Neil Collie runs trails around the scenic Glass House Mountains area in preparation for the 250km Big Red Run. Contributed

RUNNING 250km through the desert in six days is not a prospect that would appeal to most people, but Neil Collie can't wait to get started.

The Glass House Mountains man will celebrate his 49th birthday the day before setting out into the Simpson Desert from Birdsville, in Queensland's west, on the Big Red Run.

The course will take him around sand dunes, gibber plains, clay flats, salt lakes and station tracks, and he will be running about the distance of a marathon every day for the first four days of the race, then on day five he will run the equivalent of two marathons.

The run will finish with an easy 8km back to Birdsville on day six, where Mr Collie hopes a nice, cold beer will be waiting for him.

As if the run itself did not set a gruelling enough task, Mr Collie - and everyone else taking part - must pay a $3000 entry fee and raise more than $1000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Runners also face a weight restriction of 14kg on the gear they can take to Birdsville, which must include all their meals for the week.

 

Neil Collie doesn't let anything hold him back.
Neil Collie doesn't let anything hold him back. Contributed

Nothing about this event was designed to be easy, and that was what attracted Mr Collie to it.

"I had a stroke six to seven years ago and I wanted to prove to myself and others that yes, some of the cards given to us can be pretty hard sometimes, but if you sit on your butt all the time you'll never change anything," he said.

"I did 100km back in October last year (in the Blackall 100) and I thought, 'How can I top that?'.

"Someone said there's a 250km one in the desert."

With help and inspiration from his personal trainer - and ultra-marathon runner in his own right - Jamie Milne, Mr Collie said he had learned to believe he could do anything he set his mind to.

"He's got the left-hand side of my body strong after the stroke," he said.

"I've got a really positive feel whereas before I was quite unsure if 100km was possible. He's changed my whole concept of body and thoughts."

In preparation for the outback ultra marathon, Mr Collie runs four times a week, for up to three hours, hits the gym three times a week, and trains at a brisk walk twice a week, and practises meditation while he's at it to bolster his mental strength.

And if by challenging himself Mr Collie could help other people appreciate what they have, so much the better, he said.

"I love just being alive," he said.

"I love being around awesome people. If I can make a difference in someone's life just by making them see they can run a 5km run, I've won."

The run starts on June 24.

Topics:  big red run general-seniors-news outdoor-living running stroke ultra marathon wellbeing


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