To get an idea of how big Australia really is, just ask Nedd Brockmann. He found it the hard way.
When Brockmann arrived at Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Monday – his unmistakable bleached-blonde mullet tucked under a baseball cap – it marked the end of a 2,456-mile (3,953 km) journey that had begun on the other side of Australia 47 days prior.
It’s hard for the 23-year-old to know where to begin when recounting the physical toll he’s suffered since leaving Cottesloe Beach in Perth last month – the countless injuries, endless joint pain, deprivation sleep, blisters or even maggots growing in his toes.
It all explains the joy and relief etched on Brockmann’s face when he finally arrived in front of hordes of people at Bondi – Australia’s iconic surfing beach – and marked the occasion by draining champagne from his shoe. drenched in sweat.
“I’ve been through hell 10 times to get there – through every injury, all the sun, rain, road trains, traffic accidents, weather, headwinds,” Brockmann told CNN Sport. . “Just to get through this and finally see so many people in Bondi was out of this world. I couldn’t believe it.
Brockmann, an electrician from Forbes, New South Wales, has endeared himself to Australian audiences during his transnational run, so much so that many are clamoring for him to be crowned Australian of the Year in 2023.
On Friday, he raised two million Australian dollars ($1.26 million) – almost double his original target – for homeless charity We Are Mobilize through his run across Australia, covering averaged over 50 miles per day for 47 days.
Brockmann started running before the pandemic, primarily to lose weight. His love for the sport began to grow, and so did the length of his races – from half marathons to marathons to ultramarathons up to 62 miles long.
In 2020, he decided to run 50 marathons in 50 days and in the process raised nearly 100,000 Australian dollars ($63,000) for the Red Cross.
His appetite for a challenge only growing, he set his sights on racing through Australia earlier this year and finally hit the road on September 1 – beginning a journey that would take him to the edge of his limits. physical and beyond.
The first major hurdle came on day 12, when severe inflammation around a tendon in his shin prevented Brockmann from running at all. He drove 14 hours with his team for an MRI and, after receiving three injections to dull the pain, he drove 14 hours back on his planned route to continue his run, now armed with an ankle band to help lift his foot off the ground.
And that wasn’t the only physical barrier he would face.
“(There was) knee pain, I had a lot of foot pain, IT [iliotibial] the bands were gone, my hips were pretty broken, my glutes — it was pretty everywhere, the injuries,” Brockmann says.
“If you are going to hurt yourself, you are going to hurt yourself with the number of kilometers we are covering. It’s in your head then – it has nothing to do with physicality, it’s a mind game.
Adding to his injuries were a chronic lack of sleep — Brockmann says he survived on two hours of sleep a night for the first three weeks — and the ever-present challenge of consuming between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day. day to make up for the 10,000 to 12,000 he was burning.
“Oats in the morning with banana and coffee,” he says of his diet, “then I ate bacon and spring rolls – two of them – apple turnovers, pancakes, donuts, ham and cheese croissants, chicken wraps, ham and cheese toast, you name it, I ate it.
Running mostly alongside traffic on the side of Australia’s long straight roads, Brockmann also had to contend with 30-tonne trucks that periodically passed him.
“One in three vehicles is a big road train with four trailers on it, three trailers on it, trying to get me off the road,” he says. “So it was quite alarming… and some winds when they pass you by – it just drags you down the track and blows you away. With my small figure now, I was getting pushed around.
During his 47-day run, Brockmann learned to endure. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” became the mantra he signed his daily Instagram posts with, along with updates on the amount of pain pulsing through his body.
“I’ve never seen an athlete like this before who can endure the pain and keep going,” Brockman’s physio wrote in an Instagram post this week. “It has redefined the amount of pain and suffering a person is capable of enduring.”
Brockmann puts it differently. “I think 70-80% was like, we’re in the depths of hell,” he says, “and 20% was pretty decent.”
After weeks of waking up at 3.30am to avoid running too long in Australia’s relentless heat, Brockmann is now ready to catch up on his sleep. He has no immediate plans to return to his daily work as an electrician, rather he spends time reflecting on what he has just achieved.
He was four days short of making the fastest crossing on foot in Australian history, but he thinks it has become a blessing in disguise.
“People were so inspired to get up every day, and that’s what this race became,” says Brockmann. “I think if it was all based on the record, I wouldn’t have had that support; we wouldn’t have raised that money and we wouldn’t be where we are today.
And for all the pain he’s been through and the relief he feels now that the hours of walking along the roads are over, part of him will also miss the highs and lows of the past seven weeks.
“I know I’m going to have a crash and I’m going to be pretty depressed,” Brockmann says. “It’s about talking about it, letting it be known and getting excited about life now.”