For an idea of how vast Australia really is, ask Nedd Brockmann. He found out the hard way.
When Brockmann arrived on Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Monday – tucked under his unmistakable bleach-yellow baseball cap – it marked the end of a 2,456-mile (3,953 km) journey that began in 47 days in Australia. in advance
It’s hard for the 23-year-old to know where to start when recounting the physical toll he’s taken on his body since setting off from Perth’s Cottesloe Beach last month: numerous injuries, constant joint pain, sleep deprivation, blisters or even maggots growing on his toes.
All of which explains the joy and relief etched on Brockmann’s face when he finally arrived at Bondi – Australia’s iconic surfing beach – and marked it by draining champagne from his sweat-soaked shoes.
“I went through hell and back 10 times to get there – all the injuries, all the sun, the rain, the road trains, the road kill, the weather, the headwinds,” Brockmann told CNN Sport. “Getting over that and finally seeing that amount of 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 the Australian public throughout his transnational career, so much so that many are calling for him to be named Australian of the Year in 2023.
As of Friday, he has raised A$2 million ($1.26 million) – almost double his initial goal – for homeless charity We Are Mobilize on his trek across Australia, covering an average of more than 50 kilometers a day for 47 days.
Brockmann ran before the pandemic, mainly as a way to lose weight. His passion for the sport began to grow, and so did the length of his races: from half marathons to marathons to ultramarathons, up to 62 kilometers.
In 2020, he decided to run 50 marathons in 50 days and raised around A$100,000 ($63,000) for the Red Cross.
Her hunger for the challenge only increased, as she set her sights on running across Australia earlier this year and finally hit the road on September 1, beginning a journey that would take her to the edge of her physical limits and beyond.
The first major setback came on day 12, when severe inflammation around a tendon in his shin prevented Brockmann from running. He drove 14 hours with his team to get an MRI and, after receiving three injections to dull the pain, returned 14 hours to continue running on his planned route, now armed with an ankle brace to help lift his foot off the ground.
And that would not be the only physical obstacle 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 much around, the injuries,” says Brockmann.
“If you’re going to get injured, you’re going to get injured with the miles we run. It’s in your head then; it has nothing to do with physicality, it’s a mental game.”
In addition to his injuries, he was chronically sleep deprived (Brockmann says he survived on two hours of sleep a night for the first three weeks, and the constant challenge of consuming 8,000 to 10,000 calories a day to compensate). 12,000 was burning.
“Oatmeal with a banana and coffee in the morning,” she says of her diet, “and then I was eating bacon and egg rolls—two of them—apple coins, pancakes, donuts, ham and cheese croissants, chicken wraps, ham and cheese toast. Name it, I was eating it.”
Mostly riding alongside side traffic on Australia’s long, straight roads, Brockmann had to contend with 30-tonne trucks from time to time.
“The third vehicle is a big road train with four trailers, three on top of the trailer, trying to get me off the road,” he says. “So that was quite unnerving… and when some of the wind goes past you – it drags you down the track and blows you away. With my little figure I was throwing it now.”
During the 47-day journey, Brockmann learned to endure. “If you’re comfortable, you’re comfortable” became the mantra that signed off her daily Instagram posts, along with updates about the pain coursing through her body.
“I’ve never seen an athlete like him, who can take pain and keep going,” Brockman’s physio wrote in an Instagram post this week. “He has redefined the pain and suffering that someone can endure.”
Brockmann says otherwise. “I think it was 70-80%: we’re in the depths of hell,” he says, “and 20% was pretty good.”
After weeks of waking up at 3.30am to avoid running in the relentless Australian heat as much as possible, Brockmann is now ready for bed. He has no immediate plans to return to his day job as an electrician, but is taking time to reflect on what he has just achieved.
He was four days away from completing Australia’s fastest foot crossing, but he reckons that turned out to be 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 everything was based on the record I wouldn’t have that support; we wouldn’t have collected 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 spent walking on the side of the road are over, a part of him will miss the highs and lows of the past seven weeks.
“I know I’m going to crash and go pretty low,” Brockmann says. “It’s all about talking about it, getting it out there and getting excited about life now.”