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RACE CONCLUDED 6 SEPTNEXT ROVING RACE ECUADOR - JULY 2015
Broken by the outback

Broken by the outback

By Simon Penn

As one of only two people ever to complete the 4 Deserts in a calendar year, Paul Liebenberg was deservedly one of the pre-race favourites for RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010. But an explosive first day put paid to any chance of his troubling the leaders.

“Well, I wanted to win and I ended up convulsing in the bush,” Paul recounts of his dramatic breakdown in the outback.

“It’s very hard, I think the heat killed me on Sunday in more ways than one – in every way possible, it broke me.

“It dehydrated me to the stage where I just couldn’t recover. It’s been heartbreaking, humiliating and humbling.”

Working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Queensland, Paul’s used to pulling injured and distressed people from remote places, but this time the tables were turned, though he expects one day he’ll be able to look back on it as a good experience.

The lanky South African completed the Atacama Crossing, Gobi March, Sahara Race and The Last Desert (Antarctica) in 2008. But since then he’s been indulging his new-found passion for mountaineering.

He’s the fittest he’s ever been, and with a RacingThePlanet event in his adopted country of Australia, he decided to give it another shot. But it wasn’t to be the triumphant comeback he’d hoped for, and he says he’s now walking much of the course - a real change of mindset for the ultra-competitive running machine.

“It’s a camping trip through the Kimberley now … it’s all about finishing,” he says.

“I’ve always said I’ll have to be dead for you to pull me out of a race.

“I’ve never quit a race, and that’s what’s keeping me going.”

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