It’s not often you find someone willing to run across the country. But Guy Schweitzer is that person and run across the country he did, from Port Hedland in Western Australia all the way to Scarborough in Queensland.
While many of us would run from the idea of a trip across the country on two legs, Guy Schweitzer jumped at it. From Port Hedland in Western Australia (leaving on 28 May) to Scarborough here in Queensland, Guy hit the road, dirt, sand and many other surfaces to make the trek, arriving back home on 13 August after a total of 78 days and 4480 kilometres. The big question for those of us who don’t run (myself included!) is why on earth would someone make the trip across the country in such an unusual way? Quite simply, because he could.
Now before you start lacing up those runners and making plans to travel cross country on foot, Guy is an accomplished runner, having been running for almost 15 years. He’s completed all manner of running missions including marathons, ultra-marathons and many other big events in Australia. His latest running adventure was another item to tick off the bucket list. To put a little more perspective on it, Guy had been spending a lot of time in Port Hedland because of his work (he’s the director of MGN Civil) and he came up with a unique way of “coming home” - by running across the country. The 48-year-old’s journey took him through some extremely remote parts of the country, but it’s an experience he’s proud to have completed, even if he had to shave a few kilometres off the original length of the trip.
“It was my way of coming complete circle and returning home on my own terms.”
“It was my way of coming complete circle and returning home on my own terms,” Guy says of his big run. “Even when I had to change my course because of flooding across the Simpson Desert and then I got stuck in Alice Springs, I was never not going to do it. I’m a bit of a fatalist like that, so I came up with another way of doing it, so after eliminating Plan A and then Plan B, I ended up going with Plan C and it got me there in the end.”
Given that he covered an almighty distance and spent a lot of time on his own, what exactly was going through Guy’s head throughout his trip, other than thinking about his super understanding wife Sonia and their kids?
“I’m a pretty easygoing, chilled out and laid-back kind of person, not much worries me,” he says. “While I was out there, I was very hyper-aware of my surroundings, but also taking it all in. I never felt like I was in danger and I met some amazing people along the way as well. “I encountered all the wildlife out there too, including dingoes and camels who were more scared of me than anything else. But I spent a lot of time in my own head, that when I came back to areas of population again, it was almost like ‘this is my road, get out of here’.”
After spending an average of seven hours a day running anywhere up to 60-70 kilometres, it’s taken some time for Guy’s body to adjust back to a normal way of life.
“Five days after I finished, it was like my body said, ‘okay, he's actually stopped’,” Guy says. “My body is really stiff now. I didn't run for the first week after I got back and then I tried to do a couple of runs in the second week. It’s been a slower transition back into getting the pace up again, but I have to remember what I put my body through and what I achieved.”
Member for Petrie Luke Howarth commended Guy for being able to achieve such an amazing feat.
“Guy’s run should be celebrated not just for the important men's mental health message, but it reminds us all that we can achieve anything we put our mind to,” Mr Howarth said. “Running across the width of Australia is a wonderful achievement. Memories for himself and the many people he stopped and spoke with on the way. Congratulations Guy.”
Now that he’s done something that very few others would even dream of let alone get out and do it, what’s next on the agenda for Guy?
“Over time, I’ve slowly started running every street of Brisbane,” he says. “In 2020, I realised I had run nearly every street on the peninsula, so then I made an effort to finish them and nearly all the way up to Deception Bay, so I thought I’ll do Brisbane City next.
“There’s about 13,800 streets and I’ve got an app to work out where I have and haven’t been and also where others are at with covering the streets as well. It looks like I’m still well ahead of the others and I’d like to be the first one to complete that. So far, I’ve done maybe 4000 and if I stick to my plan, it’ll probably take me about two years to get through it.”
Given the average person can make a pair of running shoes last for quite some time, Guy can get about 800 kilometres out of a pair of shoes (he went through five, but admits he should have used seven while travelling across Australia!) and usually gets new ones every couple of months, give or take. But it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make for something he loves. So, does Guy think of himself as an inspiration to others who may want to hit the pavement?
“I've never really thought about it like that, but so many people have said that,” Guy says. “I look at it like this: if you really want to do something, you can actually do it. You just have to stop putting barriers up, which people do.
“It doesn't have to be running. It can be anything, right? But stop saying you don’t have time and know that you actually can get it done. I hope that people think anything is possible, especially if you put your mind to it.”
And if he ever had to give up running?
“If I was forced to quit running, I’d probably ride a bike,” Guy says. “I’d still do something because I’m not someone who does nothing. Or I’d hike the trails, just to get out there still. I love going to places where you can't get to by car, because then I know only so many people have seen it or will make the effort to see it and that makes it even more worthwhile.”
You can relive Guy’s big trek and keep up-to-date with plans for his next running mission via his Facebook page Home Run.