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Aussies take it to overseas challengers

Aussies take it to overseas challengers

By Simon Penn

The home ground advantage is paying dividends for a few Australian competitors in RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010.

The leading Australian competitor after stage two is Stephen Bingham, who is sitting in sixth place with a time of 11 hours, 19 minutes and 15 seconds.

Compatriot and tent-mate for the week Peter Kingston is not far behind in eighth place, 20 minutes and 28 seconds in arrears.

The leading Australian woman is Barb Wood, who is third among the ladies and 13th overall, with a time of 12 hours, 19 minutes and 59 seconds. 

Stephen says the heat, humidity and terrain in the Kimberley have taken him a little by surprise, but not nearly as much as they have for overseas competitors.

“I’m sure many of the Europeans have never encountered anything remotely like this, for us it’s probably just a cranked-up version of what we’ve seen before,” he says.

Stephen’s event was interrupted on the first night when he had to be transported to Kununurra for a tetanus injection after cutting himself on barbed wire.

The four-hour round trip meant he was not able to prepare properly for stage two and missed the start by several minutes.

“It was a fantastic day yesterday, way better than expected – I was aiming to finish in the top quarter,” he says.

“Today was probably too easy, too much open running - I think I do better when it’s hard.

“I’m just here for an adventure - I’m not a runner, that’s a standing joke among my friends - I don’t enjoy running, I just love adventure.”    

Stephen’s forte is triathlons - he is a veteran of 23 ironman events, the most recent just four weeks ago - but  he does half his training on trails which he believes gives him an advantage over road runners and has gone a long way toward his stunning performance so far.

Peter is another RacingThePlanet first-timer who has outdone himself so far. 

“I’ve surprised myself, I wanted to do top 20 … I just thought I would be out of my league, so I’m just delighted with how it’s gone so far,” he says.

Peter also recognises some hometown advantage but says the conditions are equally tough for everyone.
“I don’t think anything can ever prepare you for it,” he says.

“I do a lot of running, that’s my main thing, but nothing can prepare you for the combination of the heat and humidity, and carrying a backpack is a real leveller.”

Barb hails from Paraburdoo in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, an outback town not too far from where RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 is being staged.

“I’m used to the heat, being from the Pilbara, though we don’t have the humidity and it’s not quite so rocky, but we’ve still got the spinifex,” she says.

“It still amazes me that the guys who come from the cold, how tough they are.”

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