Justin and Kate are a running duo from Penola in South Australia. They have run at least 5km a day for 1290 consecutive days, a world record breaking 77 half marathons in 77 days all while working full time and looking after a family of three children.
We are a running duo from a small country town called Penola, located in the South East of South Australia and this is our story.
We have both been doing Bootcamp strength training for the last 7 or so years and the instructor of this Bootcamp trained and completed a Marathon. It was Kate that was first inspired by this as she thought marathon running was only for elite athletes, that everyday people couldn't do this. Kate had never run more than 3km before, but after looking up a marathon training program on the internet and dedicating herself to it she soon completed her first of many marathons and the love and bug for running was born. Like most things when one of us does something the other one joins in.
At the end of 2016, our friend Brad Tilley from Millicent in South Australia said he was going to attempt to run 5km every day for a year. We were intrigued and asked him if he wouldn't mind if we copied. At first the plan was to complete 1 month. At the end of that month the plan became 50 days, then 100 days and eventually a full year. We are happy to say that not only did Brad complete the year also, but we are all maintaining our running streaks some 3 and a half years later, or some 1290 days.
Many people assume that when we run we are running as fast as we can day in and day out. This is simply not the case. Like everyone there are times when our bodies really don't want to run or times when our bodies are sore. It is on these days when most people would rest, and rightly so. But us we just run slower, sometimes very slow. But nothing stops our running streak. Not busy days, not sickness and not injury (touch wood neither of us have suffered anything too serious)
We were never fans of using energy gels and were looking for ways around this. We stumbled upon this little black packet of Revvies Energy Strips, through Australian Commonwealth and Olympic marathon running superstar, Jess Stenson (Trengove) with enquiring minds. We both found that through strategic eating, hydration and now the use of Revvies Energy Strips, energy gels quickly became a thing of the past.
Revvies have now become a regular part of our daily running lives. We use them for that little pick me up to get going in the early hours of the morning but they're also extremely useful any time of the day when we are just tired or have that ‘I just don’t feel like it today’ attitude which I am sure we all know too well. Specifically, on race days we never go without Revvies. Whether it’s an 800m track event for me or an ultra-marathon for Kate, Revvies are an invaluable item for us and we both swear by the positive effect these little strips offer. They’re light, easy to carry, fast working, providing alertness and energy, but all of that grouped together gives us one major benefit that the product doesn’t claim to give, and that is the confidence in achieving our physical best every time.
In 2019, we thought we would up the ante on our 5km a day journey, doubling it to run 10km every day for the entire year. But come April 1st a new challenge began, what would become a Guinness World Record breaking effort in running 77 half marathons in 77 days.
Two years ago, Kate started following a woman in Canada on social media who was looking to break the same 21.1 kilometres-per-day record that we would attempt. Halfway through her attempt, Kate knew she wanted to go after the record herself and had full plans on dragging me along with her.
When we decided to go after the record, we promised to put our family first throughout the process, it was our agreement for this running challenge not to affect the family in a negative way. This meant being strategic in choosing times to run that would not interfere with parenting times. Not wanting to run at night and take away from family social time, we opted to run mostly during early mornings.
We met this challenge head on, not worried about failure through a lack of physical capabilities. But we were not going to allow something trivial to stand in our way. Nutrition and hydration throughout these 77 days was closely monitored, not in terms of calories or anything like that but simply maintaining that real foods were eaten when hunger hit. “Don’t get us wrong, we still ate our fair share of chips and chocolate but they came after eating the good stuff.”
I certainly found these 77 days more of a struggle in the early days as I was hampered with a sore right hamstring but after 20 or so days things improved and we were both travelling well.
Day 49 of this journey brought something very special, it brought Revvies co-founder Jacqui on 1500km plus flight and drive all the way to our front door to inspire, encourage, and run with us. This day proved to be great, attracting friends to come join in and meet Jacqui, and she came with the required Revvies Energy Strips to keep everyone on the move that day.
77 days past and Raidis Estate Wines hosted a lunch to celebrate the record-breaking achievement that was enjoyed by friends and family.
Most of all for us, along with the physical benefits it is the mental health benefits of running. Running has helped us both in this area individually and also together. Running has helped our relationship grow and every day we get to spend quality time together chatting about many things, from bills to pay, what we are having for tea and who's cooking it, our children's schooling, to just sharing a joke or two. And we love it.
Maintaining a running streak like this has not always been easy, we have 3 children and both work full time, often family schedules can be quite hectic. Planning when to run ahead of time is sometimes a must. Runs can be as early as 4am, in lunch breaks, or 11:30pm at night. Often when running at 11:30pm we back it straight up with a 12am run, to clock up two days worth within the hour.
If you haven’t figured out by now, we love to run. The satisfaction of competing in events all over the country and achieving new distance records and personal best times with the help of Revvies, and pushing our bodies to achieve their physical best has been, and still is, very rewarding. The people we meet and the friends we have made throughout the running community, all over Australia and also internationally, has been a major highlight. We are a very friendly couple and always up for a chat, if you ever see us out and about at a running event be sure to pop over and say g’day or drop us a line on our socials.
In these COVID-19 times that Australia and the rest of the world find ourselves in, it has been difficult to plan for and train for upcoming events. We often set ourselves distance and/or time goals within training. This helps to keep us motivated. Next for me is to chase personal bests over 5 and 10km, for Kate is a personal best over a marathon and soon we both hope to tackle a 100km event.
Sometimes in life we need something to motivate or inspire us. For us, we find this from elite athletes like Steve Prefontaine, Michael Johnson, Mo Farah, Jess Stenson (Trengove) and Eloise Wellings. But also, everyday people that push their bodies to the limits. People who run 100km, 100 miles or run for 24 hours. These feats and others are simply amazing. “The more we run the more we love all the things around us.”
By Justin & Kate MacDonald