Marathon runner reaches final finish line after covering the length of Australia

When Erchana Murray-Bartlett first told people about her plan to run 150 consecutive marathons, they had mixed responses.

"The most surprising thing was people actually said, 'oh, of course, if there's anyone that can do it, it would be you,'" she said.

"I'm quite injury resilient, I think that is one of the biggest strengths out here. I definitely have had a lot of people say it's impossible."

The 32-year-old ran her 150th marathon in a row on Monday, finishing a five-month trip with four laps of Melbourne's iconic Tan Track.

Dubbed the Tip to Toe, Ms Murray-Bartlett's run has taken her from the tip of Australia at Cape York in far north Queensland, down to the mainland's "toe" in Melbourne.

Though it is yet to be made official, she has shattered the Guinness World Record for most marathons in a row by a woman, which previously stood at 106.

After crossing the final finish line, Ms Murray-Bartlett said she was "ecstatic".

"It's so good to be here in my home city with a home crowd," she said.

"I didn't know I could do this, I would have been proud of myself if I did two marathons, I was proud of myself when I did 10, 20, 50, broke the record.

"If you just go out and try, who knows what you can achieve."

Raising funds for at-risk species

Ms Murray-Bartlett began her run with the goal of protecting Australia's endangered animals and the regions they live in, raising money for the not-for-profit Wilderness Society.

"If we don't do anything, significant animals like the koala, they'll be extinct," she said.

"Once an animal is extinct you can't bring it back, I mean this isn't Jurassic Park."

She has raised more than $100,000, which far exceeds her initial goal of $62,000.

Adele Chasson from the Wilderness Society said more than 2,000 animal and plant species were on Australia's national threatened species list.

"That makes Australia unfortunately number one in the world for mammal extinction. And extinction is a choice made by governments and corporations, and we want that to change," she said.

"This will make a huge difference, allowing us to power our work for Australia's wildlife across the country."

Challenges included a wild bull, broken-down car and insects

Ms Murray-Bartlett went through 10 pairs of shoes throughout the more than 6,300-kilometre journey.

"I'm surprisingly okay, I've got very callused, swollen feet. My feet are now a size bigger than when I started," she said.

But despite the physical toll, she said logistics were the most challenging element of running through such varied terrain.


"Every single day we're camping 42 kilometres south … that could be a bridge, that could be a river, that could be anywhere that has a little bit of space," she said.

"Battling the heat every single day was definitely challenging, finding food, because you have to do all that normal stuff and lay it on top of running a marathon.

"There's been so many challenges, the car has broken down — luckily I haven't broken down."

Ms Murray-Bartlett and her team were so plagued by bugs during the trip, she said all the insect repellent and sunscreen left her "sticky for months".

She also had a "terrifying" incident when she was chased by a wild bull in Cape York and needed a car to chaperone her safely through the course.

Ms Murray-Bartlett mentioned the possibility of running through Tasmania, but her top priority was taking a break.

"All I want is to put my feet up and to have a chardonnay, I think that's fair," she said.


posted Tuesday January 17th
by Georgia Lenton-Williams and Leanne Wong