Mick Marshall’s eight deserts attempt for positive change

Mich Marshall

Ballarat endurance runner Mick Marshall is about to embark on a Guinness Book of World Record attempt for the most desert races run in a single year.

The itinerary covers 1,436km of some of the most uninhabitable terrain in the world; including the deserts of Peru, Oman, Africa, India, the US and Australia.

He is gearing up for eight ultra-marathons ranging between 100km to 520km with the hottest, windiest, driest and most arid conditions you can get, and third on the list is the Run Larapinta Stage Race.

Mick is taking on this new challenge to help bring about positive change, to create awareness, lift the profile and raise funds for Berry StreetRUOKRiver’s Gift and JDRF.

We caught up with Mick before he set off for his 8 Deserts mission.

How did you first get into trail running and racing?                                                                               

After running my first marathon at age 42, I wanted to test myself even further and growing up in the bush, trail and adventure running was a very natural progression for me.

When did you come across Run Larapinta and what made you decide to include this Stage Race as part of your 8 Deserts World Record attempt?                         

It has been on my bucket list of events to do for quite a few years, so it has always been on my radar. I have never been to the trail before and I am very aware of how spectacular it all is, we were looking for an event to slot in at that time and didn’t hesitate with Run Larapinta. Although the challenge will take us to a lot of fantastic places, I am sure that this event will be one of the most spectacular and it’s in our backyard.

Is this the first world record attempt you have gone for, and was it one you expected to tackle, or did you have other ideas on the table as well?

Yes, it is the first official world record I’ve tackled. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always dreamed of being in the Guinness book of records. No, it all sort of came about by accident really, I am involved with a lot of charities and wanted to lift the awareness of these as well as mental health and POSITIVE change. Originally, we set a plan to do the 4 Desert series but then got a bit carried away to go even bigger and it sparked my childhood dream when it was suggested why don’t you go for it with a world record and know here we are, I have to pinch myself sometimes.

Your world record attempt starts officially on 27th June, that’s not far off, what has your training involved and how is it going?

Training has always been around 100 – 120km per week with strength work in the gym. Food and nutrition is a big part, testing foods on runs to see how we go.  The last five weeks have been a bit of a battle, dealing with a sprained right ankle. It is all good now though, but it was maybe a blessing in disguise as it made me concentrate heavily on my weakest link – my big flat feet and weak ankles.

How much will it mean to you if you can help raise awareness and funds for the four key charities you are running for? Do you have a specific goal or idea of how much you hope to raise?

It will mean a lot to assist these organisations continue their amazing caring work. We have set a target, with all races combined being 1,436km or 1,436,000 extremely tough steps, we figured each step was worth at least 10cents or $10 per km so we have a figure of $143,600.00 that we are determined to reach and exceed by the time we reach this record.

If your running and world record attempt could help change the lives of others for the better, how would this make you feel?

It would make me feel that we have opened the gates on mental health just that little bit further. We all know the positive effects that moving (exercise, walk, run, taking that first step) has on our mental health and general wellbeing and when we start challenging our own so-called limits and begin connecting with others, this becomes the perfect recipe for positive change to begin.

What will you do if and when you indeed break the world record of most desert runs in one year?

I am not quite sure, I’ve never been one to look too far ahead, definitely no plane trips for a while, but I do think some well earnt R&R with the family will be in order. Then it will make me smile looking  back and reflecting that CHANGE is well and truly possible, giving some inspiration that we are all much more capable than we think we are, if we just Take that first step and have a go.

Mick’s 8 desert races are:

R1. Big Red Run – Simpson desert (Australia) – 150km 27th June – 2nd July 2018
R2. Peru 8Mil Desert Challenge – Ica Desert (Lima, PERU) 104km 19th – 21st July 2018
R3. Run Larapinta Stage Race -Simpson desert (Australia)-136km 17th – 20th August 2018
R4. Ultra-Mirage El Djerid 100k (UMED) – Sahara Desert (Tozeur, Tunisia, North Africa) – 100km 28th – 30th September 2018
R5. Oman Desert Marathon – Oman Desert (Bidiyah, Oman) – 165km 16th – 24th November www.marathonoman.com
R6. Run the Rann – Rann Desert (India) 161km 2nd – 5thFebruary 2019
R7. Zion Ultra – Utah Desert (Utah, US) 100KM 18th – 20th April 2019
R8. The Track Australia – Simpson Desert (Alice Springs, Australia) 520km 15th – 24th May 2019


The four charities are:

  1. Berry Street – Berry Street believes all children should have a good childhood, growing up feeling safe, nurtured and with hope for the future. Today Berry Street is the largest independent child and family services organization in Victoria. (employee – Therapeutic carer and Advocate)
  2. RUOK– RUOK’s mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. Encouraging conversation through its 4 simple steps 1.ask 2. Listen 3. Encourage action 4. Check in. (Community Ambassador, speaker and awareness campaigner)
  3. River’s Gift– River’s Gift is one of the largest sources of non-government funding for SIDS research in Australia. To date, River’s Gift has generated close to $1 million to help find a preventative cure and raise SIDS awareness. Help Stamp Out Sids – SOS. (running coach and advocate)
  4. JDRF– JDRF is the leading global organization funding type1 diabetes research and is their mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. (long time fundraiser & supporter and Big Red Run participant placing 1st in 2015 over 150km, 2nd in 2017 over 250km and will be Race 1 for the record attempt in 2018)


To read more about Mick’s 8 Deserts challenge or donate, head to the website at Everyday Hero HERE

To find out more about the Run Larapinta Stage Race head to the website.

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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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