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The 2016 4th edition of the 250km Big Red Run kicked off on Saturday morning at 7.30am outside the iconic Birdsville hotel.
The morning was a crisp 7 degrees, with the sun rising just before the start of the race.
Runners were both nervous and excited as they milled around the start line outside the hotel, having their spot trackers fitted, chatting to each other, stretching and having the obligatory pre race pictures taken.
This year the runners are in for very different conditions than in prior years, with well above average rainfall for the first half of 2016, and the desert very green with wildflowers in bloom, and sparkling ponds of water throughout the desert. Some magnificent scenery but a bit of puddle dodging required, which doesn’t seem normal for the desert.
The run started on time at 7.30 with the runners completing a lap of Birdsville before heading out north past the airport, and turning west into the desert.
The running conditions were great, with the sun out and the surfaces quite firm from all of the rain, which helped firm up the sands of the dunes.
The course on day 1 takes the runners on a 42km west to Big Red, crossing around 20 dunes, gibber plains, and clay pans, with a difficult climb up Big Red in the last leg running along the top of dune before descending and running into camp 1 on the dry lake bed adjacent to Big Red.
Swedish runner and 2015 Marathon de Sables women’s champion Elisabet Barnes took an early lead, as the pack headed out of Birdsville, and she maintained that lead over the entire day 1 course finishing in 3:59:59, just over 16 minutes ahead of 2nd place getter Andy Dubois who completed the day in 4:16:34, and Jamie Hildage returning from the 2015 Big Red Run rounding out the top 3 just behind Andy at 4:18:15.
We had all but one of the runners complete the course on day 1, with one runner withdrawing at the last checkpoint with stomach issues, so all in all a great finishers rate.
Adventure of the day goes to Sabrina Paxton who missed her Friday flight to Birdsville, caught a plane to Mt Isa, and ghired a car and drove 700km to Birdsville, starting after the main pack, and completing the distance at night within the overall cut off time.
There was also a range of interesting attire amongst the field, with a variety of tutus and other colourful outfits that added to the atmosphere of the run.
One of the great parts of Big Red Run is having all of the lead runners cheer in the following runners back in camp, which creates a great sense of camaraderie.
Top 3 male and female place getters for day 1 of the Big Red Run are as follows:- (but of course there is another 208 km to go for Big Red Runners and 108 for Little Red Runners)
Big Red Run
Little Red Run
Day 2 is now underway with runners braving wet and cold conditions, with lots of mud and clay underfoot in many sections. They took off from the start with 3 or 4kg of clay on their shoes making it one of the most challenging race starts most runners have encountered.
It’s the only cold and rainy day forecast for this years event and the first day in the 4 year history of Big Red Run where runners have had to endure rain during the run.
Thankfully we expect the sun to be shining again for day 3.
For full Big Red Run Day 1 results CLICK HERE
For full Little Red Run Day 1 results CLICK HERE
For all Day 1 photos, check out the Big Run Images FB Page
Download the full album of Day 1 photos
The Big Red Run is a unique high profile fundraising event, which draws significant media coverage. If you are interested in Big Red Run sponsorship opportunities, please contact us, and our sponsorship manager will respond to you.