What would you say if someone told you they’re going to run a marathon a day, for 150 days in a row? That it’s ambitious? Crazy? Impressive? Impossible?
Well, Erchana is doing just that on her journey Tip to Toe which takes her from, you guessed it, the tip to toe of Australia. And since every runner needs a good outfit, (even more so if you’re running 42km a day), we've partnered with Erchana to help support her run. We were lucky enough to chat with her before she embarked on this incredible challenge.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Erchana and I’m a bit strange. But I think strange should be the new normal. I love meeting new people and hearing about their ‘thing’, whether it be pottery, painting, yoga or rock climbing. Personally, I love to run. I run every day even if it’s windy, raining or extremely hot. I’ve been an elite runner for about ten years and the sport has provided me with many opportunities to travel, meet new people and push my physical boundaries.
That, and I’m a 32-year-old Melbourne woman with a Masters in Nutrition and a strong interest in indoor pot plants and strong oat lattes.
What is Tip to Toe?
Essentially, Tip to Toe is one giant continuous run from the tip of mainland Australia (Cape York) to the toe (Port Melbourne). A distance over 6,200 kilometres – equivalent to one marathon every single day.
The current World Record for consecutive marathons is 104, held by an American woman. If I manage to make my way to Melbourne as planned, I’ll complete a whopping 150 consecutive marathons. It’s a big task, but I’m up for the challenge!
What inspired you to take on this journey?
I love Australia’s native animals. I think they’re incredibly unique, with fun personalities and interesting characteristics. So, I’m running to be the voice of our native animals and the wild places they call home. My goal is to raise $10 per kilometre I run between Cape York and Port Melbourne with all funds being donated to The Wilderness Society.
We have almost 500 native animals currently sitting on the endangered list; this number has risen by 8% since 2016 and more extinctions are expected in the next decades. The money raised will go a long way in protecting the ecosystems that keep Australia alive and green.
This is such an important cause and something that all Australians can get behind.
How long has this project been in the works? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Tip to Toe was a pipe dream turned reality during COVID-19. It was a goal I set myself as a child but I put it in the same category as writing a novel or becoming a pilot – something you know you can do if you put your mind to it, but life keeps throwing you distractions. Well, COVID-19 removed all distractions and after two missed attempts at an Olympic qualifying time for the marathon, I set my sights on actually making this happen.
Have you always been a runner?
I’ve always been an active person, for as long as I can remember. I ran as a kid, but always for fun, as there wasn’t the infrastructure where I grew up to run competitively in any organised sense. Instead, I had this road near our family home in the Yarra Valley called the ‘Zig Zag’ which essentially would wind itself up a massive hill and I would race my time up it every couple of days. That was about it.
Instead of running, I went on to play soccer and ended up playing at a collegiate level in Iowa, USA. I learnt that sport could not only take you all over the world, but it was a gateway to meeting new and wonderful people along the way. I ended up splitting my time between the USA and the UK and played for almost a decade.
Upon returning to Australia, I moved to Melbourne and needed a reason to make new connections. Wanting to try something new, I signed up with a recreational running club in Collingwood. From that first training night, I took to it like a duck to water and was racing cross country and track within the first 12 months. I haven’t looked back. Similar to soccer, running has now taken me all over the world and I can’t wait for it to show me the real outback Australia.
What has your training and preparation been like?
This is a great question because, to be honest, I’m completely winging it. There aren’t many people who have run for the distance or time I’m aiming for to model my training off. I am, however, putting a big focus on strength and health over fitness. I’m cautious to ensure I’m not overtrained at the start line so I’m spending more time in the gym than ever before with a big focus on balance, leg and core strength. I’m also hitting a lot of trails to give my stabilising muscles all the practice they need to keep me upright out there.
We love this approach.
What do you hope to gain from Tip to Toe?
I hope to deepen my love and appreciation for Australia and her incredible national parks, mountains, valleys and waterways. I would love to make an impact on the fight against extinction to ensure Australia’s beautiful animals are around when our children are. I hope to meet new people and learn their stories. I hope to inspire everyone, irrespective of age, gender, background or ability, to jump off the couch, throw on some shoes, and immerse themselves in this wild backyard. I hope to help ignite people power to take a stand against the destruction of national parks and wild places. And finally, I hope to share the success stories of local legends and grassroots projects doing amazing things today to help ensure our environment is around tomorrow.”
It’s so inspiring to see Erchana’s hopes for positive impact, not only personally, but for the environment and wider community too.
Which parts of Australia are you most excited to run through?
I’ve never been past the Daintree Rainforest so the unknown of Far North Queensland has definitely piqued my interest and attention. The animals, climate and terrain there are very different to anything I’ve experienced before – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Cassowary in real life!
What do you love about the outdoors?
Everything! I love exploring new places, seeing new plants or the way animals interact with their environment. I relish the feeling of sun on your skin, particularly on a cold morning. I enjoy the sense of achievement when you reach a goal you’ve set yourself – whether that be a mountain summit or an extended lap around the block. It’s an opportunity to run into people you would never have met if you stayed inside. I love the feeling of moving forwards, feeling my heart beat and working up a sweat. Even when it’s cold and a little miserable outside, it makes you feel something, which can be very powerful.
Is running your favourite outdoor activity? What others do you get up to?
Running and hiking for sure. Running maybe slightly more than hiking only because you can see a lot more in a shorter period of time. I’m a big fan of making the most of the weather, so I'll never say no to a picnic in the park, a surf, or making a trip to the snow for a board or ski. I’m a big believer that you don’t need to go far to get an outdoor ‘fix.’ I’ve been working in an office for the past five years and would make it a priority to walk to lunch everyday just to give myself a small daily dose of vitamin D.
What motivated you to have an eco-friendly running kit for this adventure?
Australia recently got placed in the top 15 global emitters of greenhouse gases, which are wreaking havoc on our ecosystems. Making eco-friendly consumer choices is an absolute no-brainer for me. Yes, I do believe effective change needs to be top-down, but it doesn’t mean we can’t all do more to help protect the future of this planet. That is why I chose to wear Amble Outdoors apparel for my journey. Making wiser consumer choices not only helps do your bit, but it sends a bigger message to Australia’s decision-makers that the environment is a key political action point that needs urgent attention.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You can have everything you want in life; you just can’t have it all at once. That, and don’t let the paths of others dictate yours.
Patience is key, we totally agree there.
Do you have any rituals or practices to help you stay motivated during Tip to Toe?
Strangely, I don’t. Although, having both the world record and the fundraising/awareness campaign for the Wilderness Society relying on me to get up and run 42.2 kilometres every day is all the motivation I need.
I also have an incredible support crew joining me for parts of Tip to Toe so I’ll be leaning on them when the going gets tough.
How can we follow along and stay up to date with Tip to Toe?
“I’d love the support over on Instagram@tip_to_toe_2022. I’ll be providing daily updates of the journey and showcasing some of the most scenic and incredible parts of outback and regional Australia. Plus, we’ll be sharing the stories of people we meet, the fun we have and any hurdles we will most probably encounter.
You can also come and join me for a run/walk/jog along the way; I’d love the company. I’ll be posting up to date maps and route times on socials so if I run past your town, come and say hello, it would mean a lot to me.
Finally, if you can, please donate to our GoFundMe page:https://gofund.me/80948fe8. The link is also on the websitetiptotoe2022.com or in my Instagram bio. The funds raised will go a long way towards helping The Wilderness Society continue their amazing work fighting extinction. Let’s work together to keep wild places wild!
We’re so grateful to be part of this massive adventure that Erchana is on. The goal that she’s set herself is something we’re simply in awe of and so happy to be supporting (literally with our sustainable Crop Tops and figuratively with our emotional encouragement). The extinction of more native animals in Australia is something no one wants to see happen so be sure to follow along with Erchana’s journey, donate if you can and even join her when she passes on by.