OLLY WOOLRYCH, 27, Sydney, NSW
Olly runs five marathons a week to raise awareness and support for those with anxiety and depression. The run took Olly on a solo journey through the Mexican highlands, along both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, and through rain forests in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Favourite places along the route?
Guatemala: Those mountains and volcanoes were the hardest running I had every done, by a long margin. The scenery was incredible and the local villages I ran through made all of the brutal hill climbs worth it.
Pacific Coast Mexico: I got in the pattern of running all day and camping on the beach, I felt free and loved that I was progressing everyday with my “house” on my cart behind me. Life felt simple yet so satisfying.
The Sierra Madre Mountains Mexico: It was the first time I had run above 3000m. It was cold and fresh in the mornings. I noticed the difference in how the locals lived between being at sea level and then up in the clouds. Even the diet was dramatically different, so it was culturally eye-opening as well.
Most memorable moments?
Too many memorable moments to list them all, but there were a few times when I was invited in to have a meal with a local family, who heard what I was trying to achieve. The local people were so kind to me, giving me food and a place to camp. I’ve learnt a lot from the generosity and will remember the kindness of these strangers forever.
Some of the drivers I shared the road with were crazy, scary and funny at times. I definitely had to be switched on at all times whilst running on the busy roads. I loved seeing the wildlife and in Costa Rica stopped to help a sloth move across the road – that’s not something you do every day!
The hardest part?
The heat was the hardest part of the run. Before I left I had anticipated it being the mountains I needed to climb, but staying healthy and hydrated in the heat was difficult. Loneliness was also a challenge, often due to my limited Spanish vocabulary. Sometimes it would be four weeks between having a conversation.
Experience summed up?
The run was a massive mental and physical experience, one of those experiences that is almost too big to put into words. I loved the culture and the way I pushed myself to the limits. Hard to sum up, I just know I will never be the same person after this run. I learnt a lot about the world, about people and about myself.
My brothers flew into Panama for 4 days – one from Australia, the other from the United States. We stayed in a nice hotel and went to an island with a few palm trees/huts on it and laid on the beach chilling for a couple of days. I’m still winding down mentally. It’s been strange adjusting so I went for a long run a couple days after finishing. It felt amazing to be free and not be pulling my 18kg cart behind me.
I plan on spreading the message about the importance of a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Full article in the April 2016 edition of Runner’s World.