Months after starting out from the tip of Cape York, Erchana Murray-Bartlett is set to complete her 150th consecutive daily marathon in Melbourne on Monday, finishing a record-breaking journey through Australia’s eastern states.
Murray-Bartlett set out in August to run more than 6,200km, raising money for the Wilderness Society and awareness of Australia’s extinction crisis – just days before Ned Brockmann began his 4,000km run from the west to east coast.
Her journey has taken her along beaches, dirt roads and through Victoria’s high country, interspersed with visits to schools and conservation groups. To date, the runner has raised more than $98,000.
Murray-Bartlett’s final marathon is due to start at 1.30pm on Monday at the Pillars of Wisdom in Melbourne, and should end about 6pm with four loops of the Tan track.
The current Guinness world record for most consecutive daily marathons (female) was set last August by Englishwoman Kate Jayden, who completed 106 in as many days.
Murray-Bartlett has been keeping a detailed record of her daily runs, which the Guinness world records will consider for certification after her journey is complete.
The 32-year-old, who spoke breezily on the phone while finishing one of her daily marathons, said: “I’m so proud of what my body has been able to achieve. I’m so proud of the money we’ve raised.”
Murray-Bartlett has been joined by other runners in recent weeks.
“[They’re] keeping me going,” she said. “It’s distracting me from the pain in my hips and my knees and my feet.”
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Nearly five months of daily running has taken its toll. Murray-Bartlett said her feet had increased half a shoe size and were covered in calluses.
“They’re not that sightly at the moment, to be honest,” she said. “I don’t have any tendinopathies or broken bones … just overuse and soreness in my knees, lower legs and in my back. Also I have this constant brain fog that is making everything really difficult.
“You almost feel like you’ve aged 50 years.”
The past several months have seen her run along the New South Wales coastline and around the Victorian peaks of Mount Hotham and Mount Feathertop.
“I did more hills in December than the rest of the trip combined – I think it was 14 or 15km of elevation,” she said.
To allow her body to cope with limited recovery time each day, Murray-Bartlett ran slower than she would have if competing in a race; she completed her marathons in about four hours, at a pace between 5min50s and 6min a kilometre.
Throughout her journey, she aimed to eat between 5,000 and 6,000 calories a day.
“I’ve lost more weight than I anticipated, and as a nutritionist, I was very careful of that,” she said. “So what I even thought was a ludicrous amount of food wasn’t enough.
“My intake is now four or five big meals a day and just constant snacking. I’m at the point now where I’m almost too tired to eat.”
Murray-Bartlett’s final weekend of marathons involved a public group run along the Warburton trail in the Yarra Ranges, as well as a run with family members, including relatives who have flown in from overseas to see her cross the finish line.
“I don’t want this to ever end because I’m having a lot of fun,” she said. “But I also really do need to stop because my body is at its limit.”