At around 5.30pm AEDT on Monday 17 October, Ned Brockman – a 23-year-old from Forbes who had moved to Sydney and was shocked by the rate of homelessness in the city – ran down Campbell Parade and crashed into Bondi Beach.
His 3,952km journey from Cottesloe Beach in Perth across the country is completed in 47 days. This is not a typo. Yes, 47 days.
On the penultimate day on bitumen, he ran a lazy 113.75 km.
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Along the way, he raised more than $1.47 million to help the homeless, surpassing his original goal of $1 million and setting a new goal of raising $1.5 million.
And, of course, he finished it all off with a shoe.
He also inspired people from all over Australia and the world to get up and run, providing a unique insight into self worth and the mental and physical toll of putting your body through hell.
Australian running great Steve Maneghetti, who won gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in the marathon and has held the record for the fastest time in the City to Surf since 1991, described the feat as “incredible”.
“I thought I was an endurance athlete, but this puts it into perspective,” Maneghetti told foxsports.com.au.
“I was running twice a day and it was only 13 hours a week, to be able to do something like that, you’d be out there 13 hours a day – it’s just unbelievable.”
Maneghetti to some extent described the sensations that a person feels after running such a distance.
“At first it’s sore and then I didn’t do anything like what Ned did, but after a marathon you’re sore for days and just tired and it feels like you’ve been hit by a bus,” he said.
More than the physical toll, Maneghetti said mentally, the journey to Brockman will push you physically, and said it could take months to recover.
“Physically you just keep going and it happens, but mentally it’s very hard,” he said.
“When you’re on straight stretches of road, there’s nothing to see at the end of the road, so mentally it’s very, very difficult.
“Nothing can take away this weariness. So that’s the next thing that comes up and then you just go flat and you don’t want to exercise again for a while until you get better, which can take weeks, months and depending on how you feel. It will certainly take its toll.
“But what a fantastic result in raising so much money to help the homeless, but it’s going to be flat and sore for a while.”
Ultramarathon runner Lucy Bartholomew agreed.
“Ultimately, I mean, your body is going to be wrecked if you do something like that, and you might get a few blisters and everything, but on a cellular level, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, like you digging a well and a hole every day you do something like that,” she said. “There’s no way to do it sustainably.”
While Bartholomew completed her first 100km ultramarathon when she was 15, Brockman only started running long distances during COVID.
That’s something the 26-year-old can’t fathom.
“My career was like a boil and it was just slowly coming up, and I think Ned’s career was just up to the boil,” she said.
“I’d say Ned has probably worked 100,000 more days than I have in my 11 years of work, which is just crazy. Just to squeeze 11 years into the last three is just phenomenal, but very, very gratifying. That’s why I treat him with the greatest respect.”
Bartholomew added that Brockman helped “start a conversation” and created a “tidal wave of movement” around running and mental health.
“I think the joy is that in ultra running you tend to find people with mental illness, especially because they’re people who have to be in a certain state of mind,” she said.
“They have to be addicted enough to something and run like that consistently, pushing their body and knowing that it’s probably past a healthy point, it definitely takes a unique personality.
“So I think what this does for the sport of ultra running is that it just opens up that conversation, and instead of hiding what we run for, who we are, or what our past is, we can use it as form of change.
I think seeing someone so young, I see myself like myself, people asking why are you doing this, why are you doing this so young, and just bringing these young people into the world of ultra running, I think really got people talking “.