Just imagine this: running for nearly 30 hours, non-stop, up hills and down tracks, through bush and across creeks, pushing your body to its absolute limit, way further then most of us think is possible, until your body starts to rebel.
This is the life of an ultra marathon runner.
These are not races run on roads, where hundreds or thousands of people take part. These are races where sometimes only 10 to 15 people participate, and often only one or two of those is a woman.
We are lucky enough to have one such woman in Lennox Head, and her name is Jill Thompson. She’s 45 years old, a mother of two, and she gets up several times a week at 4.30am with a torch on her head to train.
For the last two years she has run the gruelling Glasshouse 100-mile (160km) trail that winds its way through the breathtaking Glass House Mountains just inland from Caloundra, about an hour’s drive north from Brisbane.
This sport is absolutely not for the faint hearted. It has been described as the equivalent of four marathons and is a serious testing of trail run ability.
The starting gun fires at 5.30am, sending runners on an amazing 100-mile trail of undulating bush tracks, gravel and dirt roads that includes the summit of the 300m high Mount Beerburrum and Wild Horse Mountain.
Jill admits she is hooked on her sport, and says that like so many, she never believed she would be capable of such endurance. But now she is part of an incredible community of Ultra Marathoners, who, even in the middle of nowhere and the middle of competition, always look after each other.
‘I just wish there were more women involved, and more women who realised what they are capable of,’ she says.
‘If I could inspire anyone to give this a try, I’d be happy.’