Running Across Australia In 63 Days | Nikki Love
Tell us a little about Nikki Love?
I was born in the UK, my parents emigrated to Australia shortly after my first birthday and I grew up in a place called Geelong (an hour south of Melbourne) embracing the outdoor/sporty Australian lifestyle. From the age of 4 to 16 I loved, lived and breathed ballet, I desperately wanted to become a ballerina but didn’t make the cut. One of the recommendations made to me at the time was to lose weight, I was too heavy, it led to many years of bulimic tendencies.
Thankfully an aerobics instructor noticed me in her classes, she saw my musicality, my athleticism, my coordination – all skills gained from years of ballet – instead of my legs being too big, she said they were perfect for being a runny, bouncy, jumpy, thingy (an aerobics/fitness instructor). I went back to College and at age 19 started working in the fitness industry.
In terms of my adventurous tendencies, I’ve always been quite keen to find out what I’m capable of achieving and in the process of that, raise money for charities and also meet and hear the stories of others.
1998 – 500kms in 24 hours Team Cycle Relay – from top to bottom of the state of Victoria, Aus.
2002 – London Marathon (No. 1)
2004 – London Marathon (No. 2)
2010 – 7 marathons in 7 days
2016 – JungleUltra; 230kms in 5 days
2017 – 63 marathons in 63 days
2018 – Run Malta & Gozo
2018 – Run Around Ireland; 750 miles in 32 days
2019 – Run Across Netherlands; 250kms in 5 days
2019 – Run Wales; 295 kms in 7 days
Along the way, from the 7in7 challenge I started visiting primary schools, first to chat, then to include the students in the adventures. From there we developed our Love Running Adventures programme. Schools join me virtually on my adventures – together as a team they cover the distance “with” me. Building teamwork and togetherness and personal progression, and builds internal characteristics – our 10 superpowers I am … Ambitious, Brave, Committed, Adaptable, Determined, Resilient, Persistent, Proud, Happy, Love.
Schools from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Australia have joined along on my adventures. We’re building on this for the Run Across Australia, the more the merrier.
Why did you decide to run 63 marathons across the UK?
There were a few big reasons – at the end of running 7 marathons in 7 days I promised a friend that if I ever did anything that crazy again, I’d do it for the charity that is helping him, Huntingtons Disease Association. The 63 marathons qualified for the crazy title, so I wanted to raise as much money as I could for HDA.
I’d wanted to run more than 7in7 when I was planning that adventure, but I was talked out of it. The questions HOW I could – logistically, physically, financially were thrown at me, and in the opinion of others they didn’t believe I was capable of more. I listened. At the end of the 7in7, the consensus was the same. But I had other ideas. I wanted to put what I had learned into another adventure, I wanted to see what more I was capable of achieving. It took another 7 years to get to the 63 marathons but I got there.
Then of course there was the question of where would I do them? I could have done them at home, but I wanted it to be a big adventure and I wanted travel the UK seeing all the iconic sites through Scotland, Wales and England and running a marathon along the way seemed the perfect opportunity to see the country as well as find out about myself.
Did you enjoy it?
I loved it. It was so hard, but I never gave up and I look back on it and I am proud of what we did.
I say we – I did the running, but I would never have been able to finish it without the love and support of my team. My actual daily team was small, it was me and my partner Sharif (Sharif is the hero, he kept me fed, watered and picked me up and pushed me on when I thought I had nothing left). Then there was all the other people who helped – with looking after my dog and my kid, contacting running clubs and schools, sharing the story, donating time and money.
I have so many stories from the adventure. Day 1 I had my first newbie marathoner. Simon had never ran further than 10kms, yet he came for a run to give it a go, and completed his one (and only, he recently texted) marathon at John O’Groats. I had several more people come and join me and complete their very first marathon. That is an absolute honour to experience.
Our van broke down in the first week which set about a chain of events that proved to make the adventure even more purposeful for me. Instead of travelling around 63 different locations, I found myself back in Nottingham (still running a marathon a day) which brought about an invite to run at a friend’s primary school. As the Head she put an invite out to other schools and before I knew it, we had 20 schools lined up for me to run/visit/talk to over 2 days. We built on this once the van was fixed and we got back on the move and we visited schools around the country where we could as part of my daily marathon.
What was your plan to Run Across Australia?
Running across Australia has been in my head since 2013 when I watched a British bloke attempt it. He had a torrid time of it, as he ran during the Australian summer months. Having grown up in Australia, and know what the weather is all about, I thought that if I ever did attempt anything like that, I’d definitely do it in the winter months. That was where I parked that thought until I started planning the 63 marathons.
As I was planning the 63, I was again “recommended” not to do it, citing that I wasn’t ready, that I didn’t have any backing etc, etc. The backing part was true, but I believed that I could do it and if nothing else it would be a practice run for running across Australia … we all have to start somewhere and get good at our craft.
I ran my 63 marathons and decided that Australia would be next, however, having learned a thing or two during the 63 days I thought it would be better with more sponsorship (especially for my bank balance), so I ran around Ireland as another practice run, all the while attempting to raise my profile that I do complete the things I set out to do.
I set a date for June 2019, that was when I was going to run across Australia. Simply put, I didn’t raise the money I needed to get it done, so I postponed until June 2020. Enter Covid-19 into the world and again I haven’t got it done. My house is up for sale (although Covid-19 has put a holt to that just at the moment) to finance the adventure and “Third time lucky” is now the catchphrase.
The adventure plan is to run from Cottesloe Beach, Perth to Bondi Beach, Sydney. The route is approximately 3,800kms (the current route may change due to road conditions etc).
The current Guinness World Record is 67 days (and something, something hours), it is held by a man and has been in the book for 17 years. My goal is to run 63kms per day for 63 days and that should get me to my end location with a new GWR.
At this point in time, we are intending to take our van “Sunny” to Australia to be the support vehicle. The intention is to kit out and logo the van here in the UK and then ship it to Perth. It worked out cheaper than to hire a campervan in Australia for the length of time I’ll need. It also becomes a part of the story and I get to use it to travel around the country to speak at schools (and run club / corporates) when I get back. Sunny is a T4 VW camper – ex-AA van.
It is also the intention to capture as much footage as we can to make a film/documentary post event, and I will write a book about the adventure.
The reasons again are many, I want to give this thing that’s been inside my head for 7 years now, a go. I’ve just turned 53 so I’ll be 54 when I can hopefully put this back on the table (the Australian Govt has said it won’t open its borders until 2021, and if that is the case, I will wait again until the cooler months of May to August). I want to prove to me (and anyone watching) that my age and gender are my strengths not my weaknesses and I that I will be doing my best until I can’t (at which point whatever I can, will still be my best – it’s a lovely juxtaposition).
This adventure was also about me taking my next step up from my current level. My normal became 63 marathons in 63 days, my next level up is to push 63kms per day for 63 days – a marathon and a half as it happens, which is a nice synergy and is part of my mantra of chasing extraordinary.
My Love Running Adventures school program is up and running for this adventure. We had 30+ schools all signed up and ready to run before Covid-19. We’ll get them back to it when schools go back. My goal now is to get to many more schools and get a headstart on me, and hopefully I’ll catch them up.
Then there’s the charities, the two charities I have committed my time and donations to are Children With Cancer UK here in the UK and Beyond Blu in Australia. Beyond Blu is a mental health charity that I wanted to support first because of the raging bushfires that hit Australia, and now this – people have been put under a lot of strain and I’m hoping that I can raise money and awareness for my chosen charities.
You are now running across Australia on your treadmill! Why?
I’ve decided to do my Run Across Oz on a treadmill. The thought came about from the amount of time I was spending on a treadmill during the Indoor Relay event we put on during May.
I’m going to be starting on August 1 2020, replicating what I would have been doing in Australia but on a treadmill at home in Nottingham. 2,500 miles in 63 days! The purpose is to use it as a training run so that I can address the current state of affairs with my body. I’m going through peri-menopause, which is having a physical impact on me, so the opportunity that Covid-19 has presented is that I now have time to test myself and strategies for when the real thing happens (hopefully next year, but who knows given the state of our infection rate – Australian borders may stay closed to UK citizens).
As part of this, I’m being filmed by Troy TV for a documentary about Women’s Health in the UK. I’m going to be talking to a group of Doctors specialising in women’s health/menopause next week to discuss this adventure, my current symptoms, recommended strategies, etc.
Although I was prepping for Australia, it got put on hold, but my training continued, so I believe I’m good to go, however, all the rest of this is now a rush job to get something together ready for my start – but hey, that’s all part of the excitement of an adventure.
Tell us about your preferred running gear. Which brands do you use and why?
Hoka – Brand Ambassador. I was championed by the store Up & Running to Hoka as these were the shoes I wore during my 63 marathons and have worn ever since. Hoka now provide me with my shoes and I currently do talks and runs at Up & Running stores in conjunction with Hoka.
Runderwear – Brand Ambassador. My socks and underwear and running bras are supplied by Runderwear. Again I used their product during my 63 marathons and absolutely loved them and have been given kit as and when I’ve needed to replace – not very often, the kit is very long lasting.
Kymira Sport – Brand Athlete. Lycra leggings and lycra shorts. The kit has infrared technology in the material to help with the recovery of my legs. I wear the lycra shorts when running in cooler weather and the leggings for post-run recovery which helps me get up and run day after day after day – essential for what I do.
Polar – Brand Ambassador. Polar has provided me with a Vantage V watch, they have also provided me with a running coach Nick Anderson, Running With Us. Nick has been coaching me to improve my cruising speed, ie., to get faster but keep my heart rate at a comfortable aerobic level. The Polar watch has been integral for me to keep track of my heart rate whilst running and ensures I’m training in the best zones to get the best out of me.
Kitbrix – Brand Athlete. Kitbrix has provided me with my kit bags and backpack for when I’m on the road. Their robust bags are fantastic for throwing all my running gear into the back of the car or in the van for longer trips.
Kate Percy’s Go Faster Foods – Brand Ambassador. Kate supplies me with ‘Go Bites’ energy snacks. Running long distance requires a lot of fuel and these snacks are tasty, easy to carry, easy to eat. I love them.
LightUpU – Brand Ambassador. LightUpU provides me with my headtorch and safety illumination kit for running. As well as wearing a headtorch at night, I also wear illumination bands and clips for me and my dog in dull weather – I want us to be as seen as possible and be safe.
Have you already got sponsors for the run across Australia?
All of the above have agreed to provide kit for Australia.
The National Running Show has provided sponsorship since 2018 and I have spoken at their 2018, 2019 and 2020 Birmingham events.
Global Telesat Communications has offered me the use of a SPOT tracker for the Australia event.
How have you coped and kept going during lockdown with such a big challenge on the horizon?
My training was on the way up in terms of mileage and time on my feet when the request to stay home came in. I decided to stop going on long runs as part of my one activity per day as it didn’t seem right, just because I could run long and for many hours, didn’t necessarily mean I should. So I have been working on my speed which has given me a focus with my time.
It also gave me time to write my book from my 63 marathons which I am self-publishing and will be launching July 2020.
Knowing that this is a temporary time (still unsure how long, but there will be an end/change to the current terms of living) I’ve kept my focus by knowing that it will happen and I still want to be ready for it. It’s also given me a little time to think about another adventure here in the UK. Another opportunity to practice – I’m thinking a point to point John O’Groats to Land’s End adventure with a bit of a twist through the middle. This will take shape as and when restrictions for travel change.
Who are your role models in running / sport?
The two books that had the biggest impact on me are “50/50” by Dean Karnazes and and “Just A little Run Around the World” by Rosie Swale Pope MBE. I am so grateful to say that they have both now become friends and have given me advice and cheers along my way.
Dean ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states of US, along the way they championed getting kids active and raised money for various childrens charities. Rosie’s adventures, including the one she is currently on (she is 72 years young and still doing this), were also about raising money and awareness for charities. Their passion and their purpose shine through in everything they do and this is what I want my adventures to be about. Getting people active, building self-belief, raising as much money and awareness for charities as is possible.
I have been very fortunate to meet so many amazing people over the last few years and I’ve learned that the people who are amazing are also genuinely nice and kind and willing to take time to talk and meet, so I try and make that happen.
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