Saul Richardson (JWA Principal, guitar/bass/combo teacher & SYJO chief conductor) successfully completed the Sri Chinmoy Australian 24 hour track championships race over the weekend, Saturday June 23 – Sunday June 24. He walked a total of 128.856 km in 24 hours at Blacktown International Sportspark, where overnight temperature dropped as low as minus 3 ° forcing some competitors to withdraw due to hypothermia. This was Saul’s debut 24 hour race, his ultra marathon debut, and in fact his first race over any distance since Year 8 at high school where he ran 400m at the school athletics carnival.
A 24 hour race is an ultra marathon held on a track. The winner is the competitor who covers the greatest distance in 24 hours. Runners/walkers can take “pit stops” if they need to, but the leaders rarely leave the track. Saul competed as a race walker in this event. Although there was no official separate category for walkers, the field of 32 in the 24 hour race included six walkers. Respected Victorian race walking judge Tim Erickson was in attendance for the whole 24 hours to verify that the walkers used “legal” distance walking technique the whole time. His presence would have ensured that any records set would stand as official. Michelle Thompson, one of Australia’s best ultra walkers ended up missing the Australian 24 hour record by a few kilometers.
Saul finished in second place among the walkers, behind Michelle Thompson. He was 10th in his age category and 18th overall. Click here to see the Full race results.
Saul’s race was a huge personal challenge, but also in support of the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestras that he conducts. A number of friends and supporters agreed to sponsor him to help raise some funds for the non-profit organisation. The difficult condition he set for himself was that sponsorship was only for every kilometer he completed in excess of 120 km. To put this into some context, a popular and well-known fundraising walk for Oxfam is the annual Trailwalker. In that event teams of four are sponsored to complete 100 km in 48 hours.
Other members of the SYJO family were involved in the race. Anne Perry, mother of Grant in SYJO2 was invaluable as crew for Saul during the race. Cathie Wiltshire, mother of Charlotte in SYJO3, competed in the 12 hour race which was run at the same time as the second half of the 24. She finished 3rd in her category with a PB of 75.699 km!
Thanks to everyone who sponsored Saul in the race. The sponsorship will provide some really helpful funds for SYJO. It also gave Saul a challenging but achievable target during the race, even through some of the toughest patches, and was an added motivation for him to push on right to the end.
After a few days rest, Saul will be back in training for his next distance walk.