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Back from Namibia to finish the job

Back from Namibia to finish the job

By Simon Penn

When Russell Paschke failed to finish RacingThePlanet in his home country of Namibia, he was determined one day to finish the job.

Russell and his wife Sharon had always wanted to travel to Australia and so when RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 was announced they jumped at the chance.  

Unfortunately Sharon was forced out of the event on day two but Russell is still soldiering on.

“I did Namibia last year but on day one I ruptured a disc in my back,” he says.

Eight months before the event he broke three vertebrae, but thought he should still be able to walk it.

“Going into a canyon I jumped from one rock to another and ruptured a disc,” he says.

“So I decided to give it another shot. I’ve always wanted to come to Australia and this was a good excuse. Then we’re going to tour around a bit afterward.”

At the first checkpoint on day three in Australia, while performing surgery on his blisters with a needle after lying prostrate in a nearby stream for 15 minutes, Russell says Australia is proving a tougher challenge than Namibia.

“The first day I got up to checkpoint three (in Namibia) and if that was anything to go by it was pretty tough,” he says.

“Although speaking to people here who did it, this is tougher … It’s been tough, this heat is something we’re not used to.

“We’re used to heat, and hotter than this, but not the humidity, it’s killing me. But it’s been beautiful – almost worth it.”

Sharon decided to give RacingThePlanet a try after her husband competed in Namibia: “Either I’m a good influence or a bad influence,” Russell says.

RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 holds extra significance for the couple after they celebrated their second wedding anniversary on day two of the event.

“When he checked in for RacingThePlanet in Namibia it just looked so exciting and there was such a great atmosphere, so I thought ‘why not challenge myself?’ Sharon says.

For training she entered the Namib Desert Challenge with Russell but was forced out at the second checkpoint on day two with severe blisters.

Although disappointed at not being able to finish in Australia, Sharon says it’s the chance to challenge yourself and grow that she enjoys.

The couple doesn’t race together, preferring to go their separate ways on the course: “He’s very competitive and determined whereas I’m a bit more relaxed,” Sharon says.   

“This is part of our holiday, so it’s something we have to enjoy.

“You defeat the whole purpose if you push yourself so much you start hating it.

“I don’t have any plans to do more at this stage - but then, after the last one I said that this wasn’t for me!”

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