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Tuesday, July 09, 2013
SYDNEY RUNNERS CONQUER THE DESERT DUNES TO LEAD BIG RED RUN

Sydney runners Matthew Donovan and Matty Abel have triumphed over the red sand dunes of the Simpson Desert to lead the field after the opening day of racing in the Big Red Run, a major new endurance running event raising funds for type 1 diabetes research.

Leading local and international runners have descended on Birdsville, Queensland from across the globe for the week-long running event from 8-13 July, which includes Australia's first and only 250km multi stage desert running race.

Both from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Donovan and Abel tied for first place in both the 42km Big Red Dash and the first stage of the 250km Big Red Run, crossing the finish line together in just four hours and 38 minutes.

Victorian adventure racer and off-road triathlete Peri Gray was the first woman across the line in the Big Red Dash, only one minute behind the men in four hours and 39 minutes.

Happening on the eve of National Diabetes Week, the Big Red Run takes runners and walkers across the famous red sands of the Simpson Desert, including the world’s longest parallel sand dunes and the famous 40-metre high ‘Big Red’.

Competitors have the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km.

Both Donovan and Abel will be back running among the sand dunes today for the second stage of the Big Red Run. Sydney’s Jess Baker, a silver medallist in the World 24 Rogaine Championships, leads the women competing in the 250km race.


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The Big Red Run has the support of some of the biggest names in Australian running, with ultra-marathon champion and twice world record holder for crossing the Simpson Desert, Pat Farmer serving as event ambassador.

The charity event was launched by amateur runner Greg Donovan, whose son Stephen was diagnosed with the potentially fatal type 1 juvenile diabetes at age 14. Donovan himself is leading a team of Australians (including race leaders, son Matthew Donovan and Jess Baker) in the Big Red Run, as they attempt to become the first team in history to complete five desert ultramarathons in five continents.

All money raised from the event will go to type 1 diabetes research projects and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world’s largest charitable supporter of type 1 diabetes research.

To follow the action or to make a donation visit http://www.bigredrun.com.au/ and head to facebook.com/BigRedRun and twitter.com/BigRedRun 

NOTES FOR MEDIA:
* High res imagery from the Big Red Run will be available. Please contact; Avviso 2 9368 7277 


Monday, July 08, 2013
Day One Results

Results are filtering back to Birdsville slowly today, we will try to speed up the messages tomorrow.

Un-official Results Day One;
Events;
--Stage 1 of the Big Red Run 250km
--Big Red Dash 42Km desert marathon
Matty Abel and Matt Donovan tied for the mens first place in both the Big Red Run 240Km (First stage) and the Big Red Dash 42km event. Finishing in just 4 hours 38 minutes.
Peri Gray was the first woman across the finish line in the Big Red Dash category, only one minute behind the men (4 hours, 39 minutes)
Jess Baker was the first woman in the Big Red Run Category (250km, Stage 1) in just 4 hours 47 minutes.

About these runners;
Matty Abel has placed 1st in the Northburn 100, 1st in the Great Nosh Footrace, and 1st in the Macleay River Half Marathon. He will be tough competition for Matt Donovan (Team Born to Run) Who completed the worlds toughest marathon series in 2012, the 4 Deserts, each consisting of 250km of some of the harshest environments you could visit.
Peri Gray traveled from Torquay, Victoria to compete in the 42Km Big Red Dash. An elite Adventure Racer, Pro Xterra off-road triathlete, she comes well prepared for this type of event.
Jess Baker is a research associate at the University of New South Wales. Jess completed the 4 Deserts in 2012 as part of Team Born to Run. Jess was a silver medallist in the World 24 Rogaine Championships, and jointly holds the record for the Great North Walk, 260Km Sydney to Newcastle trail.

At last report, (4:40pm today) there were still a couple of people out on course.

There are more photos coming soon, check out the Photo Galleries on www.bigredrun.com.au

(Media access to print quality images are available from Avvisio; 02 9368 7277)

ABOUT THE BIG RED RUN
The Big Red Run is Australia's first and only 250km, multi-stage desert running race, being held in the Simpson Desert from 8-13 July 2013. Based out of Birdsville, the event will give runners and walkers the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km. All money raised will go to fund type 1 diabetes research. Visit: www.bigredrun.com.au

Monday, July 08, 2013
RUNNERS DESCEND ON SIMPSON DESERT FOR START OF BIG RED RUN

Leading local and international runners will tackle the iconic red sand dunes of Australia’s Simpson Desert today for the start of the Big Red Run, a major new endurance running event raising funds for type 1 diabetes research.

Runners and walkers have descended on Birdsville, Queensland from across the globe for the week-long running event from 8-13 July, which will include Australia's first and only 250km multi stage desert running race.

Happening on the eve of National Diabetes Week, the Big Red Run will take competitors across the famous red sands of the Simpson Desert, including the world’s longest parallel sand dunes and the famous 40-metre high ‘Big Red’.

Runners and walkers have the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km.

The charity event was launched by amateur runner Greg Donovan, whose son Stephen was diagnosed with the potentially fatal type 1 juvenile diabetes at age 14. 

The event has the support of some of the biggest names in Australian running and entertainment, with ultra-marathon champion and twice world record holder for crossing the Simpson Desert, Pat Farmer serving as event ambassador and country music legend John Williamson set to perform a free sunset concert atop Big Red tonight.

The Big Red Run will give runners a truly unique opportunity to tackle some of the most beautiful and forbidding landscapes in Australia and join an even bigger race – the race for a cure for type 1 diabetes,” said Farmer. 

Today will see the start of the 250km Big Red Run and the running of the Big Red Dash, with runners setting out from Birdsville Pub into uncharted parts of the Simpson Desert towards the Big Red sand dune.

The first day of racing will also include “The Big Red Run Up” where competitors will be timed for their run to the top of Big Red.

The field of runners will include UK adventurer and tourism ambassador Ben Southall, who is competing in the 42km marathon just one day after running in the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

I’ve run in some extraordinary places over the years, but I’m told there’s nothing quite like running in the Simpson Desert,” said Southall, who rose to fame after winning Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the World competition in 2009.

Among the runners tackling the 250km six-day stage race are New Zealand ultrarunning icon Lisa Tamati, rising Aussie stars Lucy Bartholomew and Matty Abel, and Donovan himself, who will lead a team of Australians as they attempt to become the first team in history to complete five desert ultramarathons in five continents.

Running the equivalent of a marathon each day, the team became the first in the world to achieve the 4 Deserts ‘Grand Slam’ in November, successfully completing races in the Atacama, Gobi and Sahara Deserts and Antarctica.

It has been an incredibly gruelling journey and it’s certainly not over yet, but in every step we live our motto of fitness for fighting diabetes. I can’t wait get out to get out among the red sand dunes and to race across places in the desert where very few people have ventured on foot before,” said Donovan.

Donovan’s team, known as Team Born To Run, also includes 61-year-old Ron Schwebel, Jess Baker, type 1 diabetic Roger Hanney and sons Matthew and Stephen Donovan. A type 1 diabetic, Stephen is competing in his first ultramarathon.

The Big Red Run has the backing of Outback Queensland Tourism and Tourism and Events Queensland who are promoting it alongside other iconic outback events and tourism experiences as part of the ‘Outback Queensland Eventures’ campaign.

All money raised from the event will go to type 1 diabetes research projects and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world’s largest charitable supporter of type 1 diabetes research.

To follow the action or to make a donation visit www.bigredrun.com.au and head to facebook.com/BigRedRun and twitter.com/BigRedRun. Follow the hash tag #BRR13

NOTES FOR MEDIA:
* High res imagery and Broadcast quality footage from the Big Red Run will be available and updated regularly. Contact Avviso PR: 02 9368 7277 for access.

*** Daily news and results will be available here: www.bigredrun.com.au/live-news

**** Interviews available with:
Big Red Run founder, Greg Donovan
Event ambassador, Pat Farmer
Ben Southall and other competitors

MEDIA CONTACT:
Avviso PR: 02 9368 7277
Paul Fahy: paulf@avviso.com.au / 0413 162 72
Shane Herrington: shaneh@avviso.com.au / 0451 641 393

ABOUT THE BIG RED RUN
The Big Red Run is Australia's first and only 250km, multi-stage desert running race, being held in the Simpson Desert from 8-13 July 2013. Based out of Birdsville, the event will give runners and walkers the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km. All money raised will go to fund type 1 diabetes research: www.bigredrun.com.au



Sunday, July 07, 2013
In the prime of his life

Keith Lill is a 28-yr-old soldier with the Australian Army based in Albury-Wodonga with his wife and 6-month-old son. Keith is competing in the Big Red Dash. 12 November 2011 is a date he will never forget; the day he was diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes, which took him completely by surprise and which he knew nothing about.

What inspired you to join the Army?

There were two reasons initially. Firstly, it was a good way to get my trade as a diesel fitter. I’m originally from the wheat belt in WA, which was in the middle of a drought when I was leaving school so farming wasn’t really a viable option. And being a soldier appealed to me at that age, it was something I wanted to do. I’ve had a great career to date. I’ve experienced everything I wanted to.

You were relatively recently diagnosed with having type 1 diabetes. What led to the diagnosis?

I’d just returned from an Army operation in Africa, and was feeling pretty unwell. It felt like I was hung over all the time, but I obviously hadn’t been drinking. I’d lost a lot of weight; about 12kg over about 12 weeks. I had a lot of tests for all those nasty things you can get overseas. Just before I’d come back from overseas I’d had a really bad virus. Whether it was a link or not, no one really knows. We have no family history, I’m well past being a child or teenager, and I’m not in any of the risk categories for type 2 diabetes, so I was really out of the ordinary. There is only one other person I know of apparently in the Defence Force who has type 1 diabetes so it’s not something the doctors here are used to looking for in their patients.

What was it like being diagnosed? Did you know much about type 1 diabetes?

No, I was really ignorant, as a lot of people are. It was shattering at the time - it was a really big shock. I wondered if it meant the end of my career and there were many other things I had to sort though. A lot of people say similar sorts of things. But then you sort of grow used to it, it becomes part of you, and it’s not something that you dwell on all the time.

Has having type 1 diabetes impacted your career?

Definitely. I was in a high operational unit for the previous seven years and now I instruct at a technical college. I’ll no longer able to be deployed in any war zones or anything like that. But the Army has been good with maintaining my employment given my situation. They’ve gone out of their way to ensure that I haven’t been left out in the cold due to it. 

How do you find managing your treatment? 

I'm lucky enough that with my active lifestyle and career the disease is very manageable although I certainly have days where I struggle. I require 6-8 blood tests and 4 injections a day but as yet I haven’t had any other implications as a result of my diabetes. 

What support have you had?

When you’re first diagnosed, you’re issued with an educator and an endocrinologist and a small team that helps through the initial stage. They’re really good for providing all the education you’ve got to learn pretty quickly - that was all great. Now I see my endocrinologist once every two months for about a 20 minute appointment and that’s about it really.

What advice would you give to people who have recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, especially those diagnosed later in life?

That it’s not a curtain on your lifestyle. That’s the major thing I had trouble dealing with.
You have to do some things differently but after a while it becomes pretty natural and all the things you love to do you can still do, albeit some you have to do a bit differently. For instance, I’m running in this marathon, and I still play AFL at a reasonable level. I still do all the things I used to do before I was a diabetic. I’ve just got to take a few more precautions before and after I do things like that.

What is your motivation for competing in the Big Red Dash?

I want to try and give some support to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the research team. They looked after me so well initially after my diagnosis it’s nice to be able to do something for the foundation. It also works in well with my individual goals to do the marathon. A lot of people who don’t understand the disease would think it’s sort of undoable for someone with type 1 diabetes, but it’s great to be doing something like this to prove to yourself and everyone else that it’s not such a limit.

How have you prepared for the Big Red Dash?

I’m not a runner by any means – it’s a huge change from my normal training. I’ve never run a marathon, or even a half-marathon. I’m lucky enough that my career as a soldier has always involved training toward some goal; this is just a different one. I’ve done a lot of running, that’s about it really. I suppose you have to run to prepare for a marathon.

What are you expecting? What’s your plan of attack?

My plan of attack has changed a lot over the past month or two! Originally I was aiming to complete the run in about 3.5 hours but then I had a closer look at the track and the sand – whatever time I run I’ll be happy with. It’ll be one of the more physically demanding days of my life, if not the most physically demanding. I’m simply expecting to be surprised. There will be a lot of unknowns in the event which is good.  I’m not anxious or anything, just excited.

Where would you like the raised funds to be invested?

I suppose the big one is the cure, and the cause but also the vaccine being trialled, especially for kids. It’s not too bad for someone my age in managing a condition like this, but it’s a lot of maths and understanding of food and your body and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a young child or even a teenager to start to be trying to control their diet at that age.

How are you getting to the Big Red Run?

The Army’s supplying me with a support vehicle, and I have a ‘support crew’, although that’s pretty loose terminology. It’s a way of describing taking three mates with me (one will be running with me). We’ll see a few things over the three day drive to Birdsville which will be great. Hopefully on the trip back I can just sit in the back and stretch my legs! 


ABOUT THE BIG RED RUN
The Big Red Run is Australia's first and only 250km, multi-stage desert running race, being held in the Simpson Desert from 8-13 July 2013. Based out of Birdsville, the event will give runners and walkers the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km. All money raised will go to fund type 1 diabetes research.

Runners and walkers have descended on Birdsville, Queensland from across the globe for the week-long running event from 8-13 July, which will include Australia's first and only 250km multi stage desert running race.


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