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A day for women and in the middle of a cyclone warning, Day 135 36km  (3/8/2009)

Today, on International Women’s Day D and I spent the morning running away from a boy and a cat at that!  That boy is Tropical Cyclone Hamish who is described as a Cat 5 (category 5 cyclone).  By the way a cat 5 is a very destructive cyclone; I always said you can never trust those cats. As Hamish is predicted to hit Yeppoon on tomorrow afternoon we decided that Yeppoon wasn’t the best place to be so D and I hit the road earlier than usual, 5.00am and ran, like the wind, out of Yeppoon. Under the circumstances D seems quite calm to me as I am a tad nervous about running with a cyclone so close, I asked her how she was coping with the pressure of a cyclone looming, she just shrugged her shoulders and said “Been there, done that before, twice!” and then told me the story of her walking through red alert during her world record walk around Australia in 2004. Here’s an extract from her diary at the time (D walk can be view on www.walkaroundoz.org.au)

“Thursday 25th March 2004, Walking laps in red alert!

After my experience driving away from Tropical Cyclone Monty (The first cyclone D hit during her walk) one would think I had more sense than to drive directly into the path a cyclone let along walk during red alert. (For those of you who are unaware what red alert means when it comes to cyclones, it’s very simple; “A CYCLONE IS COMING IN YOUR DIRECTION STAY INSIDE AND DO NOT MOVE UNTILL YOU ARE TOLD IT IS SAFE!”)

Why was I anywhere near a cyclone?

It’s the weatherman’s fault! I know, I know that I shouldn’t blame others for my situations and I am ultimately responsible for what happens to me BUT I did decide to drive forward based on their advice so I have decided to hide my second round of stupidity when it comes to cyclones on the weatherman to try and make me feel less silly.

As you are aware over the last few days I have been in close contact with the Bureau of Meteorology in Port Hedland about the movements of Tropical Cyclone Fay. Last night the bureau informed me that TC Fay was a category 2 and I would be safe to walk through her, what a difference a few hours can make, this morning when I rang I was told that TC Fay had intensified to a category 3 and was heading directly towards me, not wanting to have a repeat performance of Monty I discussed my options with the bureau.

These options were:

1. Drive back to Port Hedland and wait till the cyclone had passed.

2. Continue from yesterday’s mark and walk till the cyclone is almost on us and then find shelter, again a no way option, as it was not safe to be in the middle of nowhere, with no shelter if the cyclone hits.

3. Drive forward to Willare Bridge about 160km east of Broome and walk backwards, in an anti-clockwise direction for 7 days till I rejoin my mark.

I rang Nobby Young, the guru of the continuous walking record to see what he thought about option 3 and to find out if it was okay to drive forward and walk in the opposite direction for a time based on the rules of the walk. He agreed that option 3 was the best and that it wasn’t against the “rules”.

So with a decision made, mum (D mum was her only support crew during this time in her walk) and I started the long drive, about 500km to Willare Bridge before I had even walked a step.

We were going along fine, driving in a bit of rain and wind until about 150km from Broome. At this point the rain and wind increased to the point that the force of the wind was starting to catch the van a bit too much for mum to drive so I took over......

At about 100km to go things were getting worse and I was secretly starting to think I was having deja vu or at least Monty flashbacks. At that instant satellite phone rang and I was informed that Fay had change her mind again and I was driving right towards her, Broome was about to go on red alert and that I was to seek shelter ASAP. That was a little difficult as I was in the middle of nowhere at the edge of the great Sandy desert, no trees, no mountains, no hills and definitely no buildings to hide in and the nearest shelter was 70km away at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse.

At that moment the satellite dropped out.

About one minute later it rang again and I was informed that Broome was on red alert and that I should get to Roebuck Roadhouse ASAP. By this stage I have one hysterical mother on my hands, I gripped the wheel of the van, putting the accelerator flat to the floor as the wind and rain increases beyond the force of Monty and fear started to grip me.

The number one fear I started to have was that I might not be able to walk my minimum distance within the 24 hour period and the world record would be lost, the second fear was for our safety, especially mum’s.

As I was trying to come to grips with my situation the phone rang again and I was inform that the people at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse were expecting us.  After 3 calls in about 5 minutes mum panic level had increase somewhat, so I calmly told her to go to the back of the van and pack some things for an overnight stay. Finally we came across the large blue signs that dot the landscape in WA indicating that a town or roadhouse is only 5 kilometres away. I let out a large sigh of relief, as I knew we would be safe but I had great fears about my daily kilometres and the world record.

As I mentioned before in a red alert situation all people must stay inside and for safety reasons all roads are blocked off so people will not drive during a cyclone. On our arrival at Roebuck Plains Roadhouse all three roads were blocked and the police stationed at the roadhouse during the alert said I wasn’t allowed to walk beyond the roadblocks. How would I walk with blocked roads and in red alert to complete my minimum daily walking requirements?

What else could I do, with the kind help of a bikie and his motorcycle we measured and marked the road 100 metres right in front of the roadhouse and I proceeded to walk 210 laps up and back or 21 kilometres in horrid conditions whilst everyone else was inside the dry cosy tavern having a cyclone party.

Was I scared? You bet your ass I was! But sometimes in life you have to be willing to take risks for your dreams. I needed to do the minimum requirements for the day, I needed to continue with the record even though it was red alert and I was afraid to be outside.

I know fear, we all do, but I have a motto in life that is “Feel the fear but to do it anyway”. In life if you can control your fears, don’t give in to them and push through them your feel invincible or as I do today that nothing, absolutely nothing is going to stop me from getting my dream.“

I loved hearing this story as we ran along and my fear seem to dissipate; I knew D would always do the right thing not just for me and the crew but also for the world record as well. The situation with the cyclone didn’t seem as dramatic a situation after all. So I relaxed and as we ran from Yeppoon back to Rockhampton I looked around at the amazing landscape that we were running in, flat plains with small mountains that jumped upwards a little like the Glasshouse Mountains that we ran past north of Brisbane. After a quick run, I think we were pushed along by the tail wind; we arrived back in Rocky and headed for the Rockhampton Heritage Village where D had been invited to give a speech by MP Kirsten Livermore for International Women’s Day. Kirsten was very welcoming and interested in my world record; she also helped raised money for our cause which we are very grateful for. As D was conscious of the cyclone’s location we decide to stay in Rockhampton for the night and buckle down just in case, this meant an early finish so the team spent the rest of the day doing house hold jobs like cleaning, washing and lucky for me D had time to give me a brush all over with that lovely wire brush that scratches my skin under my coat. Mmm I’m feeling clean and groomed and a very happy dog. D’s monitoring the cyclone through the internet updates so hopefully I won’t be blown away through the night.
Sleeping with one eye on open, just in case.
Maggie – Director of Greeting D.O.G
PS Today is International Women’s Day and D and I decided to make a dedication to a special lady on this day. We both decided to dedicate this day to D’s mum, Karin, who as you read before not only help D through her walk around Australia but is there every day on this trip. She is usually the first to get up and the last to go to bed. Her silent strength has always been a guide and role model to D and we just want to tell her how much we appreciate what she has done and what she is doing. D said “Love you Mum”.


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