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We Are Family


If you tell the average person that you are about to head out on a 250-kilometer footrace across one of the most wild and barren regions of the world, and that you’ll be carrying much of your own food and supplies along the way, you’ll likely be met by a look of baffled incomprehension. So, how rare and extraordinary it is for a family to enter a RacingThePlanet challenge.

Brothers and sisters Rob, Jim and Meg Heaslop are a bunch of upbeat Aussies with a mission to conquer the Roving Race and make their family proud. They are here as a result of the excitement of younger brother Rob, a 28-year old exploration geologist who is based in London but spends a considerable amount of his time working in Africa.

It turns out that Rob is something of a RacingThePlanet evangelist. “Rob was the ringleader behind the idea,” his siblings assure us. Jim was the first to be convinced, while: “it took a glass of wine or two to convince Meg.”

Rob has completed the Roving Race in both Australia and Nepal, but this is the first time for Meg and Jim to embark on such an intense family outing. Meg, a 31-year old medical writer based out of London, says that so far, her complete lack of understanding of how tough the course would actually be, has worked to her advantage. “Ignorance is bliss,” she confirms. “I didn't know how tough it was going to be, and that’s probably a good thing.”

Based in Brisbane, brother Jim explains how he started out fast on the course on the first day, but soon slowed down as a result of the heat. The two brothers were spotted exchanging amusing banter throughout this first day. As they came hurtling into the second checkpoint, a volunteer asked Rob if he had any trash to throw out. He looked at Jim and said, “Besides him? He may be too big for the rubbish bin.” At which point, Jim went fleeing into the desert, comically looking back to make sure his brother wouldn’t catch up.

What was even more wonderful about this scene was that cousin Caroline Kratzing was also standing there at the checkpoint, chuckling away while working as a volunteer (they apparently “recruited” her to come along).

As Meg considers the race thus far, she offers perhaps one of the best descriptions of the landscape: “The course is spectacular… it looks like a fake movie set.” But joking aside, Meg is here for a very worthwhile cause. She’s so far raised $4,000 for Doctors without Borders (MSF). She explains that a former client of hers recently passed away in Geneva and she is doing the race in his honor.

Jim has also embarked on the race on behalf of a charity. The 29-year old is raising funds for Street Swags, an organization from Brisbane that provides durable bedding for the homeless in his community.

Talking of beds, according to the Heaslops, one of the greatest worries of the race wasn’t the blue lizards or intense heat or vast expanses of sand, but the fact that they would need to share a tent. “So far, so good,” they tell us. “Nobody has killed each other yet.”

We’re sure that we’re joining a huge family contingency following the race, in wishing them the very best of luck in making it through to the end.


Photo: Rob and Jim Heaslop conquering Stage 2

By Clare Morin