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Could you run 162km in 24hours? Meet Australia’s Forrest Gump

29 Apr 2020
Randall Cooper
Drew Willis’ Story, the man who just runs and inspires everyone along the way! His latest quest- 162km run unassisted.

Australia’s Forrest Gump

My story really started when I teamed up with Garmin in 2016 to help with their digital vision and content. I came up with a crazy idea - to put up a Facebook post on their page committing to run a kilometre for every single like it got. In a month. It got 993 likes. I had never run at a remotely serious level before; I am passionate about fitness, and I was very much into surfing and motocross, but the most I’d run up to that point was when I was running late for work- and now I had to run a thousand kilometres in a month. This amounted to an average of around 33.3 kilometres a day, on top of my job as a mechanic and role as a father to my two-year-old daughter. This meant that I had to squeeze running marathon-like distances into the routine of my daily life, often running at night or in the early hours of the morning, and always looking to run a few kilometres whenever I had time spare. I ended up running 660 out of the thousand kilometres pushing my daughter in her pram!

 

Up to the Challenge

A typical day would see me get home from work, run a 10 kilometre round trip pushing my daughter in the pram, cook dinner while my wife got home from her work, and then set off to run again to finish my daily quota. Otherwise, I would get up at times like 4 am to complete the 33-odd kilometres in one go before going to work.

 The problem was that if I missed a single day’s running, the distances would immediately and drastically compound, and the challenge could very easily get out of hand. Family life ended up being my biggest challenge in this regard, with occasions such as Father’s Day, my daughter’s birthday and my father-in-law’s birthday imposing run-free days. This resulted in brutal days of running, where I had to run well over a marathon’s distance in order to make up for lost time. My biggest hurdle was when I began to get micro-tears in my Achilles heel, causing my doctor to order me to stop running. I told him that simply wasn’t an option, so he tried to compromise by making me walk. That also wasn’t on the cards, so I had to content him by avoiding running up hills as much as possible- which was pretty unlikely in hilly Brisbane. The final day required a marathon distance to reach my target of 993 kilometres. After completing a marathon, I pushed on to the 1000 kilometre mark in what were the hardest 7k’s of my life- because no one remembers the guy who ran 993 kilometres.

 

A Life Changed

Doing the Garmin challenge changed my life. I couldn’t imagine a day without running now. I love the freedom of it, being in the outdoors and the opportunity it gives you to clear your head. Now that I’ve started, I’ve found that I can’t stop, and I want to inspire others to do the same. I’ve now gone on to do 12 or so marathons, but I definitely think I can take myself further- I want to take on more extreme challenges, like solo 100km+ ultra-marathons. Watch this space!

 

How Premax Helps

I was first contacted by Premax on social media, who wanted me to try their products and get on board as an ambassador. A friend had already recommended Premax’s products to me, so I was keen to partner up with them and try what they had to offer. And what they offered was a game changer. The Sports Sunscreen, Anti Friction Balm and Weather Defence Facial Cream that Premax sent are now staples of my running set up, the Anti Friction Balm especially so. Before Premax came into my life, I would wear compression gear for any run over 12km to help prevent chafing, but sometimes the lining built in to the compression shorts would just become another source of painful friction- and as soon as there was chafing, my running for the week was over. Then one day when going on a 22km run, I decided to try the Anti Friction Balm instead of wearing compression, and it changed everything. It gave me a new level of freedom and comfort during my long runs, and it was magic. Premax’s Sports Sunscreen also is great because it stays on without sweating, in stark contrast to the Coles sunscreens I used previously which would make me sweat heavily and get into my eyes. Premax’s Weather Defence Facial Cream is another favourite, protecting me while I run in Australia’s hot and harsh conditions. All in all, Premax has been a life changer for me, giving me the comfort and protection to allow me to take my running to the next level.

 

 

 

 

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