Fitness challenge: Oceans to Outback

RFDS plane PC-12 parked in Mt. Isa Queensland.
  • The goal: run 42km in October
  • The result: complete
  • Will I do the Oceans to Outback challenge again? Absolutely
  • Should you do the Oceans to Outback challenge? Yes! You can walk it, if you want.

A favourite childhood TV program was Flying Doctors. Medical teams in small aircraft would, literally, fly in and save the day. Over the seasons I got to know the pilots and characters and their personal dramas as well as babies born and lives saved. But the biggest thing I saw was how vast and remote so many Australians lived. It was hard to imagine when I was less than a 15 minute drive to several hospitals and I wasn’t even in a large city. In the outback, even a simple broken leg would mean hours of painful travel. 

And the flying doctors are real. It’s called the Royal Flying Doctor Service and provides emergency and primary care across 7.69 million square kilometres. 

In October, the RFDS launched a new fundraiser AND it included running, so I was in. 

I’ve started being a little pickier with my charity fitness challenges. I’ve done a few because the fitness side would push me but I didn’t feel engaged with the charity (not for their want of trying). So I made a small personal donation and just completed the challenge. The RFDS Oceans to Outback Challenge caught my eye and I was all in. 

What is the Oceans to Outback Challenge?

The fitness side of Oceans to Outback is a challenge to complete a set distance over the month of October. You can run, walk or cycle your chosen distance. I wanted to fully run it and increase my distances so I chose 42kms, but you can choose longer. Cycling distances are longer, but you can set your own, if that works better. 

As with most virtual runs, it’s self-assessed with no accountability. You can cheat, but why would you? 

There were a few rewards along the way. These were all for fundraising. Reach the first goal and you get a t-shirt, through to a special medal and another t-shirt for the high achievers. There were a couple of competition days too.

How I went on the Oceans to Outback Challenge

To be successful, I knew I needed to get more runs in. I made a weekly running schedule. A 5km on the weekends and two 3km runs during the week. It would all be on treadmills (easier) and if work got in the way (it often does), I could use my walking time to fill the gaps. But still, the running was a little more than I did in September.

And this time, I set a fundraising goal too. 

And I scraped in success. 

The fundraising as a kind of aside; it always is for me. But thanks to some generous people I raised $340 against a goal of $250. RFDS even sent me a thank you certificate.

Running was harder, but not the actual running. It was scheduling and timing. I realised early on to keep my plan, I had to go for a run in Sydney during the CopyCon conference. The hotel has a gym, but I mapped out a route along the harbour. I had photo aspirations: me wearing an RFDS shirt running with the Opera House or Harbour Bridge in the background. Yeah, well that failed and I didn’t run that entire weekend. Running shoes put me over the weight limit and I had to choose between my camera and my running shoes. With a shot like this, I’m actually glad the camera won.

But with skipping the weekend’s run, I had to make up distance. A couple of 5km runs became six and short became long. I got it done in the final days, no walking required.

Will I do the Oceans to Outback Challenge again?

Absolutely. It was fun and for an excellent and under-supported cause. Bring on October 2023 and maybe a longer challenge distance. Who knows?

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More about Bianca

Bianca's a nerdy, book worm who is constantly curious and appreciates being alive while the internet exists. During the day, she's a content writer for a huge multinational tech company. The rest of the time she's reading, and running, and bike riding, and sipping coffee, and taking photos around Melbourne, Australia.

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