Mighty Murrays make it home after marathon year

Published in the Warrandyte Diary, February 2014

Alan and Janette, happy to be home after running around Australia for a year.
Alan and Janette, happy to be home after running around Australia for a year.

More than one hundred people waited at the finish line at Stiggants Reserve on New Years Day to watch, and welcome back, Warrandyte’s Alan and Janette Murray who made history by becoming the first couple to run 366 marathons in as many days around Australia.

“It’s almost like last year was a bit of a void. Now that we’re home it’s like we’ve picked up where we left of and it’s like it never happened – although of course it did happen and we remember every single day,” Janette said.

Alan, 68, and Janette, 64, decided to run a full marathon each day for the entire year to encourage people to make healthier and more conscious lifestyle choices.

They also wanted to prove that you’re never too old to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, saying they’re even fitter now than when they ran the length of New Zealand in their fifties.

By running more than 15,000 kilometres and taking around 18 million steps around Australia, the raw vegans raised thousands for Animals Australia, the Gawler Foundation, Kids Under Cover and the Australian Paralympic Committee.

Alan and Janette faced all sort of weather conditions during their 2013 run, from Cyclone Oswald’s heavy rains and winds, bushfires on the east coast, scorching desert temperatures and non-stop rain in Australia’s south-west.

They shared some of last year’s interesting and funny memories with the Diary, which included coming across a cousin Janette hadn’t seen in 45 years, and running along Australia’s longest straight road in the Nullarbor.

“When you get to the end there’s not even really a corner, it’s just this big straight curve and then there’s another one and it’s almost like if that curve wasn’t there then the road would just go on and on forever. It wasn’t just the Nullarbor, but several other places up north and on the west coast also had so many long straight, roads,” Alan said.

“On a positive note, it made it very easy for us to find our crew. We would watch them drive 10 kilometres into the distance and we’d see them stop and start running towards them,” he laughed.

Despite seeing some of Australia’s pristine landscapes, such as the Kimberley region, Janette says coming home to Warrandyte on New Years Day was her favourite part of the run.

“I felt quite overwhelmed by the support when we arrived back. To see so many people waiting for us and supporting us was just wonderful. It really did make us feel like we were coming home,” she said.

After they crossed the finish line and reunited with their son and his family, Alan and Janette gave an inspirational speech in front of the crowd and media.

They thanked supporters, spoke of Janette’s battle with breast cancer a decade ago and said they were happy to be home in Warrandyte.

During the afternoon they also signed autographs, took photos with fans and accepted more donations for the four charities they have raised money for during the run.

Janette says will keep donations open for a few more weeks in a bid to raise more than $20,000.

She says the run’s greatest challenges included getting people to donate and finding media coverage in Australia, which proved to be a constant struggle until they were on the home stretch.

At one point nearly all of Germany’s mainstream media was covering their story but not the Australian media. They said there were many times when running through the desert that they felt like they weren’t making a difference.

But since finishing their run, their Facebook page ‘Running Raw Around Australia’ has received more than 16,000 ‘likes’ and they say their story has inspired people from all over the world.

Their emails and Facebook page have been inundated with messages of support from people in the United States, Germany and even Romania.

Since coming home they’ve been interviewed by journalists from all over Australia and the world, including the BBC.

Alan says people were always fascinated when they found out they were running 42 kilometres each day while eating only fruits and vegetables.

Alan and Janette's family glad to have them home again.
Alan and Janette’s family glad to have them home again.

Even when they received injuries that took weeks to heal, they kept running every day, getting up before sunrise and running through to the afternoon.

“People just had no idea you could do this. People said to us ‘wow – you’re running a marathon a day and you’re only eating that’ but that’s not the way we saw it – we were running a marathon a day because of what we were eating. People are so conditioned to think you’ve got to have Gatorade, Red Bull, meat, cheese and painkillers but we have proved that’s not true,” Alan said.

As for their plans for 2014, Janette says she will write a book and finish a documentary about their journey around the country.

They will also tour the United States in the middle of the year – and they’re currently in talks with producers about appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

But for now, Alan and Janette are happy to be home spending time with their friends and family, including their six-month-old granddaughter, Marlo, who was born halfway through their run.

Janette says when reporters and people came up to them to ask about her favourite place in Australia, she’d tell them about Warrandyte.

“We spent two years before we left running around Warrandyte and along the trail from Warrandyte into the city every weekend as part of our training. We’ve run not just along the trail but I think every single road in the Warrandyte area within a 50 kilometre radius of the village. Warrandyte has become a part of who we are and it’s a very special place. It will take a lot to move us from here because this is home.”

It’s not too late to support Alan and Janette’s mission and donate to one of the charities by visiting http://www.runningrawaroundaustralia.com

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Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.