SCHOOL bus driver Sandra Salzke-Spurr has never run a marathon before, but this week she will cover that distance six times as she treks 250 kilometres across the outback.
“It’s like six marathons in six days when you break it down,” she said of the Big Red Run, which traverses the Simpson Desert.
Inspired by her first husband Robert, who died of bowel cancer at the age of 35, and 18-month-old daughter Maddie, who died of lymphoma leukaemia, Mrs Salzke-Spurr, 53, has been training for the past six months.
“I’ve done Shave for a Cure and Relay for Life and I thought I would do this for those guys,” Mrs Salzke-Spurr said, also referring to family members who have diabetes.
Funds from the run, which starts at Birdsville on Wednesday, go towards diabetes research, with Mrs Salzke-Spurr needing to raise a minimum of $1000 to enter.
The Albury resident has gathered more than $1700, including $200 from Jindera Public School students who laid down a gold coin line of donations.
Mrs Salzke-Spurr and her husband Dennis operate the bus run to Jindera’s three schools.
But this week he will be a volunteer in the desert as his wife runs or walks 42.2 kilometres three days in a row before legs of 31 kilometres, 84.4 kilometres and eight kilometres.
Mrs Salzke-Spurr’s training has involved back-to-back 30-kilometre treks on Nail Can Hill, 20-kilometre walks around Lake Hume and five-hour runs weighed down by more than 10 kilograms on her back to simulate event conditions.
“I do feel as though I’m ready to take it on, I’m probably slower than average but I’m fit and healthy,” she said.
“I just hope I can think strongly and say to myself ‘you can do it’.”
Visit www.bigredrun.com.au to follow the event.