Couple Runs A Ring Around Australia

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Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray spent 2013 running around the perimeter of Australia. NPR's Linda Wertheimer speaks with the Murrays about the epic trip that took them more than 10,000 miles.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We're going to meet a couple, now, who spent 2013 playing ring around Australia. That is, they decided to run the perimeter of the country in marathon-size chunks - a marathon a day for a year. Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray survived that experience, and they joined us from our New York Bureau. Janette, Alan, hello.

JANETTE MURRAY-WAKELIN: Hello.

ALAN MURRAY: Hello.

WERTHEIMER: Let me just ask you some questions about the run itself. Is there a road all the way around the perimeter of the continent?

MURRAY: Yes, that's correct. We actually followed Highway 1, which is the main road - 16,000 kilometers. That's like 10,000 miles. That's a long way. That's actually...

MURRAY-WAKELIN: It's a big country.

MURRAY: That's actually from New York to San Francisco and back, twice.

WERTHEIMER: So did you find that this was a decent way to see your country?

MURRAY-WAKELIN: Oh, yes. It was a fantastic way to see the country. It's very diverse and very different in each area. In fact, on some days, we had four or five different types of landscape in one day. Some of the areas we went through where the indigenous people were living, we got to learn a lot about the history of the area and the sacredness of the land.

WERTHEIMER: Did you see lots of those little birds? Those little keets or whatever they're called?

MURRAY-WAKELIN: Well, you know the whole of Australia, no matter where we were, we could hear birds. And some of the places we were in were so remote it was almost like, is there anybody out there? But there was always the sound of birds.

WERTHEIMER: Now the south and west of Australia have very, very severe weather - lots of heat, lots of storms. Was that the worst part of the trip?

MURRAY-WAKELIN: We did have one day coming down the west coast towards Perth where we were in a freezing storm. And so we had freezing horizontal rain with hail in it and about 60 kilometer/hour winds. So there was a point on that day where we did think we might have to, you know, stop because we were getting close to being hypothermic. I think that was more challenging than when we were on the East Coast, which was very, very high temperatures.

WERTHEIMER: You all have been married for quite a long time, more than 46 years. Is that right?

MURRAY-WAKELIN: That's correct.

WERTHEIMER: Did you discover anything about each other on this trek?

MURRAY-WAKELIN: Well, I think we did. And I think we do that every day. And it was a wonderful thing to do together because very rarely does anyone spend every second of the day together for over a year. Sometimes we were talking on the way. Then there were other times when we would just run together in silence and just enjoy the countryside.

WERTHEIMER: Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray joined us from our New York Bureau. Thank you very much.

MURRAY-WAKELIN: Thank you.

MURRAY: Oh, thank you.

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