PEACE RUN

Australia 29 May: Caiguna, WA - Balladonia, WA

The longest straight road

Our day started at the Caiguna camp site. We were all in the throes of packing up, eating breakfast, organising the vans and getting our lunches and daily 'snack packs' organised. Today started particularly early as we had crossed another time zone. We were all up and about trying to get into the camper at about 6.30 am for breakfast. By 7.30 am we all thought we were running late to get on the road!

As our Boys Team 'A' were allotted the first section of the kms to cover for today, Amalendu took the initiative and got our team off to a good start by taking a Torch and departing camp before we had even dismantled our tents. We caught him only after he'd covered 7.5 km.

Almost right from the start of our run today we start on "Australia's Longest Straight Road" ...

Hmmm ... we were here 5 years ago ... it seems the road became 1 km shorter since then?!?

It certainly is loooooong ...

... and it certainly is straaaaaaight!

Most of our running for the whole day occupied this one straight – only towards the very end of the day did we encounter our first bend ...

Before we get into the story of today's running, a little background on our torches ...

Our new torches are 'state of the art' with a carbon fibre handle, aluminium base and stainless steel top. These torches are a delight to run with. They are light, they burn for about 10 km and the flame stays at a very consistent level. Conversely the older torches are heavier, being made of wood and chrome plated mild steel. They don't burn nearly as long and the flame is unpredictable, sometimes getting quite large. They also don't burn for very long.

As a reader you need to understand each team needs 2 torches: we have three teams and there are only 5 'light' torches - hence there is a slight problem. We have 3 of the heavy torches but no-one wants to run with these. It's kind of like using an iPhone 3 when everyone else has an iPhone 5 ...

... Oyungerel, one of the Mongolian members of our girls team, had decided at the beginning of the Run that she very much preferred the 'light' torches. Unknown to the rest of the team she had been quietly switching the torches around each day depending on which vehicle we had. We picked up on this about 4 days into the run from Adelaide to Perth. The other teams picked up on this a couple of days later ... and the 'silent' challenge began ... to try and switch them back without the other teams noticing. Small things entertain us sometimes...

The best 'switch' happened this morning. Our girls team opened our torch box and discovered only 2 'heavy' torches – horrors! – how could this be, when we have the best ninja torch-switcher on our team??

The difference is really not that much ... but we wanted to switch back!

This was to no avail as other teams had hidden the torches in their tents and then snuck them into one of the vans they were using today, and seemed to be keeping a close guard on them.

We surrendered to our 'heavy' torches today and thought we would just have to find a way to get them back over the next few days ... but the universe had another idea! The torch hider had hidden all the torches in the van that was leaving early and travelling further than the other teams – unbeknownst even to that team, who departed before he could retrieve his hidden torches – meaning the plotters were left bereft of torches and had to ask the girls team for a heavy one ...

... once departed, the van with the extra torches discovered their extra cargo, and gave another of the 'light' torches to Amalendu as they passed him on the road, so he was left carrying 2 light torches. As our girls team were the next to pass him, they gleefully accepted 'their' light torch back from him ...

... so, as the girls team were running last they would end up with two light torches, which was the exact opposite of the overnight plotters' objective ...

Oh well, sometimes the odds are just stacked against you ...

Oyungerel could not have been happier to have 'her' torch back! – and it wouldn't leave her hand for the next 120 km of driving to our starting point ...

... so Boys Team 'A' were left to slug it out with the 'heavy' torch ...

Our team operated out of the camper van today, as we are on cooking duty for tonight's dinner. It is not as 'comfortable' as the larger vans, but it certainly is homely ...

The torch is the real star of our show. We try to keep them in as good condition as possible – even the older, 'unloved' ones.

Adrien with his collection of potions. He is our Van Captain for the day.

Grahak – our South Western Australia co-ordinator – in the back seat of the camper van, hard at work on plans for the days ahead.

Prachar, in the front seat of the camper van, working on collecting each team's daily photos and report and then aggregating them into our proprietary 'report maker' program for uploading to peacerun.org/au

Out here the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) use the road as an emergency runway ...

Boys team 'B' drove ahead 60 km and started from where boys team 'A' would finish their kms later in the day ... Prachar is our 1st runner, warming up this stretch with a limbering 2 km salute to the day.

Drishalu ran next – his standard, "I run 5 km" ...

Antara-Prabhat runs next and always seems intent on his destination ...

... there will be no object ahead of him to get in his way. Not even his mind will block his path as this is the runner's worst enemy – more debilitating than injury for us all.

Travellers who drive along the Eyre Highway, as we are, often observe that there are long sections of the "Nullarbor" [which means "Treeless"] Plain where there are quite a few trees – and that perhaps the name is a bit of a misnomer ...

... not realising that, for much of its distance, the true "Nullarbor Plain" commences some 30 km north of the highway, extending a further 200 km - 300 km to the north, and over 700 km from east to west. To drive – or run – across "The Nullarbor" is to only experience a corner of its vastness: the train journey on the Indian-Pacific Railway, which runs considerably to the north, offers a much broader perspective on the "true" Nullarbor.

I myself will run next, fully aware this morning I awoke with my already thin mattress totally deflated; the ribs on my side aching painfully, remind me of this at the start of my run ...

... though in time it is forgotten, like my past misfortunes – and only gratitude accompanies me to the horizon well before I see the van some kms later.

Our main companions on the road today are again the cheerful "Road Train" truckies, with their massive cargoes ...

... trundling the mind-boggling haul from coast to coast, Sydney and Perth ...

Sometimes they leave parts of themselves behind ...

Ion sets off next, our meticulous Van Captain for the day ...

Ion finishes his run elated, singing and feeling good. There are no more questions to be asked.

Drishalu asks for a 5 km – his second.

Overnight there must have been a fair bit of rain in these parts as the clay verges on both sides of the road were rather sticky ...

... meaning we had to drive ahead a further 2 km before we could find a safe place to stop and wait for our runner. Of course this didn't phase him in the least.

Ian, a travelling salesman, met our boys team 'A' ...

... and further on, our boys team 'B' as well ...

I interview Ion after his second run of ths day: "Do you have any thoughts you want to share?"

“Yes, where’s my lunch?”

Coming to the end of our allotted kms, our Torch is extinguished ...

... at precisely the spot where our girls team had started running a few hours earlier ...

Baigal, cheerful as ever ...

It is the last day with our rationed food (it's been 6 days since the last supermarket, and only one more to the next one!) ... so the snack rations in the vans were to a minimum (these dates are for our whole team) ...

... mmmm, tempting ...

Today we encountered Shearman, who seemed to have been waiting for the Peace Run to run past for quite some time ...

... we happily spoke with him about the Peace Run, gave him a brochure and got him to hold the torch ...

Shearman showed such enthusiasm for the Peace Run! Because of how long he must have been waiting for us, we left him with a brochure, cap, and T-shirt. We expect he will be waiting for us when or if we ever return ...

Arriving at Balladonia camping ground, we started dinner preparations with some rather dark clouds looming ...

... while some of us visited the interactive museum at the Balladonia Roadhouse, featuring replicas of the US Skylab which crashed to earth not far from here in 1979 ...

... and memorabilia of around-Australia car races of yesteryear ...

... while outside, pretty soon the heavens opened up, lightning flashed around us ...

... little rivers appeared around – and within – some tents ...

... but dinner still tasted fantastic!