Jane Trumper, three kilometres from Birdsville. Photo: Kelly Theobald
Over the past week we’d heard incredulous whispers from travellers that had emerged from the Simpson Desert. Was there really a woman running across the desert? Many of our customers had seen her as they passed her in their four-wheel-drives. They spoke of a small woman with huge determination. Her name is Jane Trumper. She is a 51-year-old mother of three and the first woman ever to run across the Simpson Desert.
On Tuesday afternoon we got word that she would be reaching Birdsville in a matter of minutes. Kelly and Sam went out to meet her as she reached the cattle yards on the outskirts of town. She pumped her arms in the air when she saw them in Onslo, asked how far it was to town and if the pub had a glass of cold white wine waiting for her.
They followed her as she jogged the last two kilometres to the Birdsville Hotel, preceded by the Birdsville Policeman, Neale, with his lights flashing. The pub was buzzing with people as they waited to welcome the amazing woman.
After running 664 kilomtres and climbing over 1200 sand dunes, she was still strong enough to jokingly turn around and start running back. But, as the crowd cheered and photos were taken, the enormity of the feat hit us all.
And why hadn’t we heard about her crossing sooner? Jane’s friend Suse said that Jane didn’t want to publicise the trip too much before they set out, just in case they didn’t make it. They didn’t want any extra pressure.
Jane Trumper (right) and friend Suse as they run into Birdsville. Photo: Kelly Theobald
When we spoke to Jane today, she was busy fielding calls from the ABC, AAP, and other major media outlets, including Mt Isa’s North West Star. However, she said that the media attention was surprising. “I’m proud that I did it, but I don’t understand why I’m getting so much attention,” she told Kelly. “I didn’t do it for this! I hardly even consider myself a runner.”
What she did do it for is Bear Cottage, a children’s hospice in Sydney, where her medical student daughter volunteers. “I had to pick something that’s close to my heart,” she said. “I have three healthy kids – I think that anyone’s who’s got a sick kid is going through a hell of a lot more than running 664 kilometres across a desert. They go through this emotional drain every day. If I can do it for ten days, it’s not that hard.”
What was hard was finding a support crew. She placed an ad on the VKS Radio website but in mid-February still only had one vehicle interested. Luckily, she found another vehicle and her American friend, Suse, also decided to join her, running a few kilometres every day. Neither Jane nor Suse had ever met the four members of their support crew. Luckily, it worked out for the best. “The support crew were absolutely awesome,” she says. “They’d only drive five kilometres ahead of me and they’d have cold water and cold drinks ready. Whatever I wanted was right there. They were incredibly patient. I’ve never had anybody do so much for me. Suse set up my tent for me every night and Gary would take it down every morning. Really, I was pretty pampered!”
Jane (left) cheers as she reaches the Birdsville Hotel. Photo: Kelly Theobald
When she set out though, the region was experiencing uncharacteristic April heat. Jane was beginning to question the task ahead of her. “The temperature was 45 degrees on the day I started, April fools day. That was the biggest downer. I thought: ‘what the hell have I started and how the hell am I going to do another nine days if it stays like this?’ It was stinking hot. I drank about 15 litres of fluid that day,” she says. “I was expecting the terrain because I’d been here before so it was the heat, more than anything, that got to me.”
Luckily, it soon cooled and she was able to finish the run with only a few encounters with wildlife. “Emus were chasing me yesterday, which was kind of fun. I’m hoping there are some good photos,” she says. “They were coming up to the road and having a good look but they never got really close because I had a car with me. We had dingoes at our campsite a few nights ago, though”.
Jane after the run with Neale, the Birdsville cop. Photo: Kelly Theobald
Amazingly, Jane feels absolutely fine after her epic run. In fact, she’s ready to do it all again. “I could easily have gone out there today and done another 66 kilometre day. I feel just the way I did on day two.”
Well, Jane. We’re very proud of you and it’s a pleasure to have you in Birdsville for the few days that you’re here. Good luck with your marathon on Sunday (yes, this Sunday!) and we encourage all of our readers to donate to your cause! You can do so here.
If you would like to know more about Jane and her running, including the Simpson Desert crossing, head to her blog.
Jane and her support crew celebrate outside the Birdsville Hotel. Photo: Kelly Theobald