Over the last 3 years I’ve been following the progress of a guy I’ve grown to admire on many levels.
Peter Wilson is not only one of Australia’s premier endurance athlete’s, he’s also one of those rare birds that transforms what can be a very solitary journey (endurance racing), into a journey of hope for lots of people – particularly very sick children and their parents.
When I last saw Peter a year ago he’d just handed over a $100,000 cheque to the Sydney Children’s Hospital. When I chatted with him a few weeks ago he’d raised in excess of $320,000 from running in endurance events across various deserts around the globe, from the Gobi in China, the Atacama in Chile, to most recently the frozen tundra of Antarctica – it’s a pretty phenomenal effort.
A bit of Peter’s background: His first foray into endurance racing came after he ballooned in weight, and realised if he stayed on the same lack-of-exercise path he was headed for long-term health problems. He started training for a triathlon to lose weight, and ended up catching the endurance racing bug big time.
In terms of his fundraising efforts Peter first became involved with the Sydney Children’s Hospital through his Dad, who was a long-term volunteer at the hospital. He would often pick up his Dad from the hospital, and got to know some of the kids very well – he also saw some of those kids lose their fights for life.
As he got better at racing, and knew he could put his hard work and ability to better use than just winning a race, a special relationship between Peter and the Sydney Children’s Hospital was born.
Outside of running ridiculously long races, Peter is an Operations Manager. After work hours you’ll often see Pete running along Sydney’s Coogee Beach for hours on end, dragging a weighted sled or carrying a 20 kilogram backpack.
He once emailed me an outline of one of his training regimes and well – you be the judge!
o Monday is a rest day!
o Tuesday is continual repetitions of the Coogee Stairs (291 stairs), running them up to 15 times. Tuesday night is core strength and boxing.
o Wednesday morning is an easy 45 min run. Wednesday night is an 18km Fartlek session where hills are run as hard as possible.
o Thursday is medicine ball workout in the morning with an easy one-hour afternoon run, and a boxing workout at night.
o Friday is soft sand running in the Kurnell sand dunes for just over an hour!
o Saturday is a long run building up to five hours.
o Sunday is an hour and a half run! The last 45 minutes of this run is on soft sand.
He also runs boxing classes during the Tuesday and Thurs!!
One of the interesting things I’ve realised after speaking with quite a few endurance athletes is that each one of them need an outside motivator to keep going when the body is screaming “give up.” The key to what Peter achieves is that the race itself is just a part of the motivation.
Following is a great diary insight into the thoughts of an endurance racer feeling the pressure.
“Day three was the worst day I’ve ever experienced in a desert. It was brutal. The heat poured onto us for hours and never relented. We dragged our weakened bodies through the salt/mud flats and then were welcomed by a 12 kilometre stage of sand dunes – sand dunes so steep that zigzagging your way to the top of them was the only option. We reached Day 3 Camp and collapsed with the thought that tomorrow was actually going to be one of the hardest days of our lives, harder than the one we’d just had.”
Peter now runs as part of Team Trifecta with good friends Michael Hull and Frank Fumich. They’ve built an incredible combination that has seen them take out 2 of the 3 desert races in the Racing the Planet series.
The next adventure for Peter is to run across the Sahara Desert in Egypt. The race itself has 6 stages ranging from 20-80 kilometres per day, over 7 days. Again Peter will be running with his mates in Team Trifecta, and again he will be raising money for the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
I once spoke with the lovely Kate at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, and she told me how much Peter meant to everyone there. All the staff in the hospital knew who Peter was, and what he’d done to help so many sick children.
His endeavors have raised money for interns, equipment, and ultimately saved lives. His example to me is that he’s not only self-motivated on an athletic level; he’s also just as motivated on a humanistic level.
He once said to me, “at the end of the day my pain is very little compared to what our kids go through”, and he really meant it.