Chris and Len have a history of endurance adventures including ultra marathons, adventure races and together in 2010, a kayak crossing of Bass Strait. They undertake these adventures to break out of their everyday synchrony, exceed their perceived limits and to feed their paleolithic, caveman instincts.

This adventure is inspired by the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne races held between 1983 and 1991, at the time, one of the toughest in the world. The idea to follow in these footsteps will however only be 3 weeks old when Chris and Len set-off. But an inspiring idea and two weeks of annual leave is an opportunity, by their own account, not to be lost.

Lastly, please consider these two thoughts: 1. the loss of biodiversity on Earth threatens life as we know it - it threatens supplies of fresh water, food, medicine, clothing, housing and the viability of oxygen-producing forests. 2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew predict that one fifth of all plant species are at imminent risk of extinction. Chris and Len, both with science background are really hoping to make a positive impact on this situation. They seeking to use their love of adventure to raise a very modest $2,000 needed to save one of Australia’s rarest plant and one they will pass near on the Hume Highway, the Grevillea iaspicula. Please see sidebar to read more about the Royal Botanic Gardens ‘Save a Species’ initiative and help them :)

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Arrived 1 pm today

Our two Save a Species heroes finished the gruelling 900 kilometre run from Sydney to Melbourne today arriving at Melbourne’s GPO at 1pm after setting off from Sydney’s’ GPO on Sunday, 19th June to save critically endangered plant species from extinction.

On track to save three plants from extinction, Chris Turnbull, aged 27 and Len Gervay, aged 30 endured sleet, hundred kilometre plus winds and sleep deprivation for the Save a Species campaign run by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust. Chris said they’re grateful for the incredible support from donors reaching from Sydney to Melbourne and as far afield as Queensland as well as the amazing support from people along the route including regional hotels, sports shops and local runners who joined the journey after hearing about their run in the media.

Estimated time of arrival in Melbourne

The boys are estimated to arrive in Melbourne's GPO at 1:30 pm today!

We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

What an escort!

A huge thanks to the Country Fire Association in Chiltern for their escort (two fire engines with lights flashing!) through Chiltern in Victoria – on the home stretch now with Melbourne in sight for arrival late Thursday......

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

New runners

Running a bit threadbare so a big thanks to SportsPower for sponsoring some much needed new trainers. Back on the road breaking them in...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Second species in the Bank

Thanks to you all, we've now saved our second species - at this stage in the game that makes all the difference! We've increased our target to $6000 - saving 3 species from extinction, come on dig deep, we are. We're in Wangaratta today and hoping to make it to Euroa tonight - thanks to the Jolly Swagman for sponsoring us with a free night.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Updated schedule for the run!

Day 1 (Sun): Slept at Mittagong

Day 2 (Mon): Slept at Goulburn

Day 3 (Tues): Slept at Yass

Day 4 (Wed): Slept at Jugiong

Day 5 (Thurs): Slept Sth of Gundagai

Day 6 (Tonight): We plan to sleep at Holbrook

Day 7 (Sat): We plan to sleep at Albury

Day 8 (Sun): We plan to sleep at Wangaratta

Day 9 (Mon): We plan to sleep at Euroa

Day 10 (Tues): We plan to sleep at Seymour

Day 11 (Wed): We plan to hit the outskirts of Melbourne and arrive in CBD today or early tomorrow morning

Press release from Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

An endangered wetland plant will be the second species to be protected from extinction by the 900 kilometre run of Chris Turnbull and Len Gervay from Sydney to Melbourne to ‘Save a Species’.
Chris Turnbull said, “There are currently 608 plants on the threatened species list of New South Wales. That’s more than ten percent of the State’s flora.
“Our Save a Species run has already received enough donations for the NSW Seedbank to collect and preserve seeds of the critically endangered Wee Jasper Grevillea.
“As we approach the halfway point of our journey we are within $100 of the funds needed to also protect Carex klaphakei, a swamp grass found in the Southern Highlands, an area we have just run through, and in the Blue Mountains.
NSW Seedbank Natural Heritage Manager Peter Cuneo said, “Carex klaphakei is only known from three locations and has become endangered through runoff from urban sites, grazing and trampling by stock, and sand mining.
“Wetlands are the biological keystones of the landscape. Their sedge grasses, such as the Carex klaphakei, help filter and retain the water that is essential for life, stabilise the soil and provide habitat for reptiles, birds and insects.”
Len Gervay said, “Chris and I are civil engineers so we look at wetlands as basic infrastructure for the planet’s biodiversity. Swamp grasses aren’t glamorous but nor are railway ties or road base and you don’t build railtracks or roads without them. The swamp grasses play a similar critical role in the infrastructure of our natural systems.”
The two runners admit to bouts of extreme exhaustion but mental and physical support has come in many forms. Andrew Bowman, a farrier (horse shoer) and TAFE teacher of Corroyong, Victoria, leapt from his car and handed the keys to the support crew before joining the runners on foot for the next 40 kilometres of the day.
Mr Bowman said, “Watching is no substitute. I wanted to be out there with them. What they are doing is absolutely fantastic. Their journey on foot between the two premier cities of Australia to save our species takes the notion of pilgrimage to another level.”
Every $2000 raised by the Sydney to Melbourne run covers the cost of the NSW Seedbank collecting and preserving seeds of one native plant species.
In Australia there are 25,000 species of plants and at least 23 per cent are at risk of extinction. The NSW Seedbank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, is targeting plants most at risk from climate change and human activities to ensure blueprints contained in plant DNA aren’t lost forever.
The Carex Klaphakei was discovered less than 20 years ago by amateur naturalist Van Klaphake and described in 1996 by Dr Karen Wilson of the National Herbarium of NSW, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

On the road nice and early

We've changed tactics. Running 5 hours in the dark each night until 11.30pm with cold winds and the roaring of huge trucks every 10 seconds about 2 metres away was starting to get us down. Today we start Plan B - start early doors and finish at a reasonable time each day. So we had a 5.30am start this morning and all is going well so far. Yesterday was a tough one - feet and ankles are really starting to hurt now and we've still got a few days to go but spirits were better this morning and we are comforted by knowing that the lovely people at the Jolly Swagman in Holbrook are putting us up for free. Thank you for the warm bed and hot shower! We should also say a huge thanks to the Forest Inn and Apartments in Canberra who have organised all of these freebies for us. We can't tell you how much better we feel in the morning after a decent sleep. So, we run (or jog) on...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Nearly there on the 2nd species!

Great news. We've just heard that we've received a $1000 donation from Clive Austin. Thank you Clive! This gets us really close to saving our second plant species from extinction. We are overwhelmed by your generosity, guys.  It's really encouraging to hear about the fundraising targets so we'll keep running if you keep giving!
Thanks to your support we've just saved a species - the Jasper Grevillea!That's amazing. Here She/He is:
Because we like to push ourselves we've raised the bar of the fundraising target to save another species. We might even manage a third if you all dig deep! Despite battling high winds and cold rain on the Hume Highway, we're in good spirits and interest from the media has great, what a brilliant way to promote Save a Species. We're aiming for Gundagai tonight and want to say a big thank you to the Garden Motor Inn for putting us up, really looking forward to a hot shower! More on our progress soon.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Pink Shirts and Love Triangles

This morning Len and I went on an field trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens to get in touch with our plant-side.  We met some of the staff there along with a eucalyptus tree which looked like it needed some love (no doubt due to it's love triangle predicament with only 3 of the species left).

Up top you will see us modelling the new exclusive range of pink RBG Bicentenary shirts. Suitably high-viz for highway wear.  Mega food shop tonight then only 2 more sleeps.  I'm just starting to feel a buzz!

Schedule (rough rough rough estimate)

Time Location
Sun 6:30 AM Sydney GPO
Sun 2:50 PM Cambeltown
Sun 7:50 PM Pheasants Nest
Sun 11:20 PM Alpine
Mon 12:30 AM Mittagong
Mon 1:20 AM Bowral
Mon 2:50 AM Moss Vale
Mon 12:30 PM Murrimba Rd, Paddy River
Mon 2:40 PM Marulan
Mon 7:30 PM Goulburn
Mon 11:20 PM Breadalbane*, Cullerin Rd, Wollogorang Rd
Tue 3:10 AM Gunning*, Collector Rd
Tue 9:50 AM Oolong*, Oolong Rd
Tue 2:00 PM Yass*, Faulder Ave
Tue 3:50 PM Bowning*, Cootamundra Rd
Tue 7:10 PM Bookham
Tue 9:40 PM Berramangra
Wed 12:10 AM Jugiong
Wed 3:30 AM Gundagai Rd
Wed 11:30 AM Gundagai
Wed 1:40 PM Tumblong
Wed 7:20 PM Tarcutta
Wed 11:20 PM Kyeamba
Thu 2:30 AM Little Billabong Rd
Thu 11:50 AM Holbrook
Thu 2:20 PM Woomargama
Thu 6:50 PM Olympic Interchange
Thu 10:20 PM Albury, Dean Street
Thu 11:20 PM Wodonga
Fri 3:20 AM Bamawartha
Fri 9:50 AM Chiltern
Fri 12:10 PM Springhurst
Fri 4:10 PM Wangaratta
Fri 9:10 PM Winton
Fri 10:50 PM Banella
Sat 12:50 AM Baddaginnie
Sat 4:00 AM Violet Town
Sat 12:10 PM Euroa
Sat 5:40 PM Longwood
Sat 7:10 PM Locksley
Sat 9:20 PM Avenel
Sun 12:10 AM Seymour
Sun 5:10 AM Broadford
Sun 1:30 PM Heathcote Junction
Sun 6:50 PM Epping (Outter Melb)
Sun 10:20 PM Melbourne

Organised Chaos

Still knee deep in the throes of organisation – shopping for food and packing, refining the support crew schedule, teeing up massages and accommodation along the route, testing the borrowed GPS unit (thank you Phil!), praying to the higher powers that oversee all things muscular, practising sleep jogging…

Had a very enjoyable bunch of conversations yesterday – lots of swapping of stories with fellow adventures, at a Toast Masters meeting of all places. My favourite snippet came from Bob Kenderes who offered, amongst other invaluable pieces of advice, a Hungarian saying: “ha hosszu az ut, lassan kell menni”, which roughly translated would mean “if the road is long, take it slowly”… might well become a mantra!

We were lucky enough to have a photograph session this morning. Keep an eye on the papers – fame may be heading our way. What lengths must one go to in order to get into print media? Approximately 900km, at a guess.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How's training?

For me, my 'speed' fitness is at an all time high. Perfect if I were preparing for a 10k run. Oh. That's unfortunate.

Towards the end of last year I increased my training to be consistently over 220km a week leading into the long races.  This steals a lot of the week's time (not sustainable when there is plenty else to do!) but did adapt my body to comfortably running with fatigued legs, though not very fast. This year I have focused on speed - that is sprints on stairs, hills and flats - and it's had a incredible impact on my 100km trail race pace.

Thinking up the 900km race with Len, with 3 weeks lead time, hasn't left much time to adjust back to the long km's strategy. So with a 10km run every morning an evening I have to clasp at whatever other kms I can grab on the weekend.  Even after a good bender.  Check below vid for some running action on the way home from Woy Woy last Sunday.  A gnarly ferry ride across broken bay then some fun splashing through puddles running around the headlands of the northern beaches. Some wind burn. A few strange looks from strangers sheltering from the occasional rain torrents. A grumble from me as I added km doing unnecessary circles around falcon st.  An Arnie like "how are you" from my housemate as I arrive home - after leaving him behind in woy woy's gnostic coffee shop 4 hours earlier.

Yep - next time ill get someone else to hold the camera still.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Support Crew - Planning and Pub Grub

Very much looking forward to ironing out the logistics of the epic adventure tonight, especially as the final touches of the planning will be over a nutritious RSL meal. Support crew shifts, back up gear, route selection, meal scheduling... it's a whirl wind of planning at the moment. Can't wait to get out there, relax the mind, and start making friends with the soles of our feet, and our Achillies, and quads, and every other muscle/ligament/nerve...

Monday, 6 June 2011


I rang Len this morning with some GREAT news.  We are now 'pro', as in (semi)officially sponsored. Andy Fist, who I first met as he snuck ahead of me to finish the Cradle Mountain Run in Feb found this site and promised 2 cases of beer to the cause. Love it. Best be keeping them for the Melbourne finish line.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

First Team Training

Len and I had our first ‘team’ training run tonight.  Fittingly, we ran the start of our planned race course, starting from Sydney GPO at No. 1 Martin Place, then down George Street, Parramatta Road, Crystal Street and onto New Canterbury Road.  Our intention was to align our speed at our estimated 6km/hr ‘sustainable’ race pace.  Our plan to do this was to jog along as slowly as humanly possible – without exerting additional effort to go slower – and hoped to pass the 6km marker after an hour.  Fail – this only took 40mins and even with a stop to take a team photo for this website.  Perhaps it was the inspiring smell of the 30 kebab shops we passed on our way and my empty belly!  We continued at the same pace figuring we could crush a few kebabs with the time saving.

The slow pace meant we could double the time as a planning session – so here are some more details.  We will be leaving 5am from Sydney GPO on Sunday the 19th June.  It would be great to have company for the run out of Sydney.  Occasional-runners welcome – you will all be fine at our pace.  Len and I will have plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company, so the more variety on day 1, the better! 

The course is set: - which avoids all freeways and motorways due to pedestrian restrictions.  Best guess is 9 days duration, pending kebab shop frequency.

A few things we are still looking for listed below – great if you can email us any leads:
  • A GPS spot tracker – and setting up live tracking
  • Contacts at any company that may be interested in sponsoring our fun
  • Support crew to throw us a few bones along the way
  • Best place to have a beer in Melbourne

A good week of training this week, some packing next weekend, eat and sleep the following week, then it’s GO time!

Live the dream!  :)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

An idea is born

We have an idea
We have 2 weeks off work (hopefully enough!)
We have a route: Hume Highway
We need a support crew to feed us
We need gear
We need to get training with only 2 weeks ETD!