Luke has been part of the Muscle Nation family for almost two years. He works in the Warehouse Team, packing and sending out orders on the daily. On Sunday February 21st, Luke will be completing a 60km run around Uluru to raise awareness and funds for mental health. He wants to challenge himself and tackle the hardest possible conditions in Outback Australia, while being able to fundraise for a very worthy cause.
“Everyone runs a marathon - so I thought to myself, let’s do one and half marathons, which is how I settled on 60 kilometres. And why not do it in the hardest possible conditions - summer, in Outback Australia,” Luke says.
In pursuit of raising awareness and money for mental health, Luke has a donation goal of $30,000. All money will be donated to ReachOut - the most accessed online mental health resource for young people and their parents in Australia. Luke chose ReachOut as he believes, the service provides unobtrusive ways to give guidance to Australians, particularly young Australians, who need support.
“It pains me every time I hear a story of what mental health can do. It’s a silent killer, and something taboo which we don’t openly speak about,” he says.
Luke is grateful for his Muscle Nation family backing him on his personal goal, and for providing him with a platform to spread his message. Muscle Nation will be supporting Luke through this journey by donating to ReachOut, as well as creating him a custom-made Muscle Nation Men’s Long Sleeve Running Top. Crafted from moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabric, the top will help draw sweat away from the body while Luke is running. The lightweight and breathable fabric will be perfect for the conditions in Uluru.
Luke’s been undergoing an intense training program since the end of September last year to prepare for the run. Training three times a day, five to six days a week, he endeavours to complete the run in less than nine hours. His customised training regime includes high-endurance sessions of running, pool running, weights, rowing and assault bike work.
A typical day for Luke begins bright and early at 4:30am. Early morning training sessions will help prepare him for his 3:30am (AEST) start in Uluru. First up for the day - gym - with an upper or lower body weight session, followed by either 45 minutes of pool running or sauna work. He trains again in the afternoon, often running, or a cardio session on the assault bike or rower.
To mimic the conditions of Uluru, and prepare for the 40-plus-degree temperatures in Outback Australia, Luke’s been wearing tracksuits while training and spending time in the sauna for heat adaptation. He’s even been spraying methylated spirits on his feet to help dry them out, so while running it will be harder for his feet to blister. Five days out from Uluru, Luke’s focus will be resting and spending as little time on his feet as possible.
A Quick Trip To Uluru
On Monday February 1st, Luke touched down in Uluru. Determined to get to know his running conditions, he immersed himself in his surroundings. An obvious observation was the unrelenting, blistering Outback Sun. With sparse clouds in the sky and no trees to provide shade, all that could be seen was red hot terrain.
His trip to Uluru was an imperative part of preparing himself for the run, both mentally and physically. Luke went for runs and mapped out his route - one dirt track at a time. However, the trip didn’t come without its challenges. Luke soon realised his carefully-thought-out route was suddenly non-existent. Most of the path he mapped out beforehand on Google Earth is actually closed to the public. He soon realised he had to start again, from scratch.
He spent a great deal of time tracking down dirt paths to run on. After days of re-routing, Luke came up with a brand new track. The first 10km will be on dirt paths as originally planned, with the next 10km on dirt tracks beside the road. The following 15km will be on the road, with the remainder of the route on dirt pathways.
His Biggest Obstacle So Far
Luke says his largest challenge has been staying consistent with training. While he does not doubt his ability to complete the run, he says it’s hard not to second guess your training. What’s driving him, is his willingness to endure the run in support of raising awareness and funds for a worthy cause.
Despite his ongoing research and preparation, his challenges will include exhaustion from the heat, chafing while running, and making sure his nutrition is appropriate to refuel and stay hydrated. There will be a support car right on his tail with food, water and first aid readily on hand. He plans to refuel every 25 minutes throughout the run.
When running, up to three times your body weight can be exerted on each foot, for every stride you take. This brings Luke to his most pressing concern - the toll the run will have on his feet, for nine hours straight.
For what has been a huge part of Luke’s life for over five months, he is finally on the home stretch of his 60km Uluru Run For Mental Health. He will be flying out from Brisbane on Friday February 19th. When Luke arrives in Uluru, he plans on settling in and going over his 60km course one last time. He’s very excited for the run and more importantly, what it represents.
“I hope to raise awareness and break down the stigma of mental health. I hope to encourage people to check-in on others… speak out… and support each other,” he says.
Post Run Update
In the early hours of the morning on Sunday February 21st, Luke began his 60km course. He powered through the blistering heat and completed his run in 7 hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds - smashing his original goal of 9 hours. He clocked a total of 70,000 steps and finished the run at 10:45am ACST (11:15am AEST).
Muscle Nation is donating $10,000 bringing Luke’s total donation amount to $23,261.
“It was an amazing experience to know I can push past certain physical barriers, but that’s not why I did it. I hope it has sparked some conversations about mental health, and if I have helped at least one person - I’ve accomplished my goal,” Luke says.
For more post race updates, see Luke's Instagram @lukekingdon_
Event Details: Race commenced Sunday, February 21 at 3am ACST in Uluru (3:30am AEST). Race finished at 10:45am ACST (11:15am AEST).