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Rocky Road to the Finish

Rocky Road to the Finish
By Simon Penn
From the gorge walls soaring high above competitors’ heads, to the boulders littering the course beneath their feet, rocks are playing a big part in RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010.
And a couple of competitors who have a bit more appreciation for rocks than most are geologists Rob Heaslop and Katie Perrin.
The rocks found in the region are sandstone with a bit of shale, Rob says, and the ripple patterns, coupled with the clean sand, show it was once a shallow marine environment.
“From a geology point of view it’s actually not very interesting, but when you put it all together it’s a beautiful place,” he says.
Rob has lived and worked in the north of Western Australia with very similar conditions of dry, rocky tracks, sharp grass and heat – but not the humidity - so has found the conditions which have plagued so many competitors mostly to his liking.
“I worked in the Pilbara, south of here, so I’ve done a lot of trail running so I really loved yesterday (stage five),” he says. Rob posted his best result on the long day, crossing the line in 17th.
“I spent 2 ½ years doing that, a couple of marathon-length runs, lots of shorter ones. It was great fun – it gave me a good excuse to throw down tools.
“The running has been really good, the first days were pretty tough, I went out too hard of course, but the last couple of days have been really fun now that I’ve got used to it and I’m having a lot of fun.”
Like Rob, Katie too is a big fan of stages four and five on RacingThePlanet.  “On stage four and the beginning of stage five I was on top of the world, I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” she says.
“The sheer cliffs, and then swimming through those waterholes was beautiful, I loved it.

“The only annoying part was having to stop, take your shoes off, put them in your dry sack, get your blisters wet, then struggle out the other side. But man, it was worth it.”

Katie says that throughout the event she’s been trying to take the time to stop and look around, even when her mind is trying desperately to focus and deal with the pain.

“I think the rocks are pretty spectacular,” she says. “I’m always awe-inspired by landscapes such as this, and that was a motivation for me to do this race.
“You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate that, anyone can be inspired by this.

“That was one of the drawcards, but it’s also the adventure and pushing past those physical and psychological barriers, the challenge of seeing how much you can achieve when you put your mind to it - I was hooked – and because it was sheer madness to do something like this. I love that every single other person here is as crazy as I am.”

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