Running 80km is a long way but nothing compared to travelling the vast distances around northern Australia helping Indigenous language development and Bible translation. Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working in these remote areas of the Northern Territory for years, undertaking the painstaking work of documenting and translating Indigenous languages.
Victorian Wycliffe Bible Translators Coordinator, Gary Peterson, was up for a challenge. On his 67th birthday Gary wanted to run 67km to raise awareness and support of Wycliffe team doing this work in the NT. However, on the day he was not content at just reaching the 67km mark but went for the greater challenge of 50 miles (80 km).
The 50-mile challenge was spurred on by former American President, John F. Kennedy, who had challenged the U.S. Marines to walk 50 miles (80 km) in twenty hours. Remembering this “Kennedy March” drove Gary from his 67km target through to 80km.
The Marathon Distances
Motived by the vast distances the Wycliffe team must travel, Gary explains his motivation.
“I was sitting beside the Wycliffe/JAARS pilot flying south from Darwin to visit one of the language communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. We were cruising along at 175 miles (280 kilometres) per hour at about 8,000’ altitude (just over 2438 metres) when we spotted a dirt road coming off a “main” road.
We followed that dirt road for an hour where it culminated at a cattle ranch (cattle station). I asked the pilot about it, and he said that dirt road was their “driveway”. DRIVEWAY!?!?!? “How big is this place?” I asked. He pointed out both sides of the plane and said, “As far as you can see that way, and as far as you can see this way, and everything we’ll be flying over for the next hour.”
Now that’s a BIG ranch!”
Gary uses this story to illustrate how vast the distances are in traveling around the Top End of Australia. The Wycliffe workers often have to drive long distances over often very rough roads to get out to visit some of the remote Aboriginal and Islander communities they serve. It puts a lot of wear and tear on vehicles, and fuel prices are also high. Air travel is not always possible, and when it is, it’s very costly.
Sport to Inspire
To raise awareness of the importance of this ministry, Gary used sport to inspire. His 80km challenge took place on Saturday, 20th of November. He explained,
“This year I thought I would attempt these goals and use it as a way to raise some much-needed funds for a colleague of ours who could use help with maintaining (possibly replacing) her vehicle and for covering the cost of fuel for her ministry.”
The run took place along the Warburton Trail east of Melbourne, Victoria. The trail follows an old rail trail from the outer suburb of Melbourne to the rural township of Warburton in the foothills of Victoria’s high country and ski fields. It works its way through the Yarra Valley, famous for its vineyards and wineries.
Run for a PurposeThere are many reasons to run. If you are inspired by Gary’s goals, why not get out to run for fitness or run for a cause. Please consider supporting the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators - Travel in the Top End - Australia - Wycliffe Australia
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html