Bretz takes out Australia’s harshest endurance run in outback Queensland


After a six-day slog through the desert of remote outback Queensland, Kay Bretz (below) has won the third annual Big Red Run, a 250km ultra-marathon raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF). Bretz completed Australia’s harshest endurance event in 21 hours and 37 minutes, followed by Mark Peart in second place and Jonathan Miller in third.

Photos - Big Red Run

Eighty runners stepped up to the starting line in the tiny outback town of Birdsville to take on Australia’s first and only 250km, multi-stage desert running race. The Run took domestic and international competitors across the iconic red sands and heat of the Simpson Desert, including the world’s longest parallel sand dunes and the famous 40-metre high ‘Big Red’.
Alison Stephens was the first woman racer to complete the Run, coming in at 25 hours and 50 minutes and placing third overall. She was closely followed by Ruby Kwong in second and Virginia Elvy in third.
The Big Red Run raised over $210,000 for type 1 diabetes research this year with the fundraising to continue. The event has raised over $550,000 since it’s inception in 2013.

Similar in endurance to the famed Marathon des Sables across the Sahara Desert and known as the most gruelling endurance event in Australia, the Run saw people from all walks of life take part in the ‘race for a cure’. Athletes from the UK, Singapore, Bali and Fiji also took part in the event.
A father from Gumdale, QLD ran the race with his 17 year-old daughter after her  younger brothers type 1 diagnosis, as well as three young aboriginal girls took on a portion of the race each day as part of an initiative encouraging people from remote aboriginal communities to overcome challenges and to interact with others outside their villages.
Overall winner, Kay Bretz, said competing in the Big Red Run was an incredibly uplifting experience.
“This event really throws me… On one hand, it’s the most punishing and strenuous race I’ve ever taken on. And on the other, the landscapes you’re running on are spectacular and the sense of camaraderie between the runners seem to offset the pain.”

Event organiser, Greg Donovan of Big Run Events, said the third annual event was a huge success and the team look forward to getting back to the outback again in 2016.
“It’s very exciting to see the Big Red Run grow into the event it has today. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for type 1 diabetes research over the past three years, as well as providing people from all around the world with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that pushes them to their physical and mental limits. We look forward to seeing you again in 2016.”

All participants and volunteers receive free tickets to the Birdsville Big Red Bash, a two-day music festival featuring Jimmy Barnes as the headline act, as a reward for their efforts.

Full results available here.