We caught up with runner Phil Dernee to talk about his epic ‘7 Marathons in 7 Days’ adventure as part of the Bravehearts 777 fundraiser. Here’s what he had to say about it all, including how his ioMerino altitude long sleeve top went when the temperature dropped.
How did you find out about the event?

As with most things, Facebook made me aware of this challenge. Two running friends announced their intent to take part in January 2016 over Facebook and from that I was intrigued and checked out the event details.

What made you decide to do it? There’s no shortage of big events out there these days, why this one?

I’d been looking for a big running event, with a great fundraising and awareness component to it for 2016. When I saw my friends posting about this event it all just clicked. I did some background research into the event and what it would require and signed up in a stupidly quick time (within about 4 hours of hearing of the event from memory!). It was something a bit different, I’ve done plenty of point to point, loop and trail runs in many awesome places over the past two years but something as unique as travelling around this awesome country, seeing a different city each day and doing a marathon at each location was definitely on the ‘not yet experienced list’ for me.

Having now completed it, how did it compare to your expectations?

Pretty spot on to a lot of my expectations:

– The runs were tough but do-able

– Getting out of bed each morning was often the hardest part of each day

– Travelling domestically becomes numbingly monotonous

– Pro-active injury management and ‘opportunistic’ eating were very important

What surprised me the most was the level of friendship and closeness the 20 of us achieved in one short week, it felt like a family by the end of day 7 and that’s incredibly rare. The types of friendships and closeness that would take a number of months in the ‘real world’ took a few short days given what we achieved together and how our purposes for the week had aligned – which was a really cool and valuable experience.

What did you enjoy most about the challenge?

I’ve touched on it but the group I did it with, the 20 runners and the 5 support staff (not to mention the state runners that would join us in each state for their one-off marathon). Also the inevitable hilarity from so many sore, tired and diverse people coming together for a week in close quarters.

What was the toughest part of it?

Getting out of bed each morning! As well as doing the things you know you needed to do that would payback to you in a few days – hard massages, injury management, packing your bags in a somewhat organised fashion!

Finally some of the stories and tragedies of child sexual abuse that a shockingly high number of people have gone through as children (and continue to go through in Australia) was confronting, but that in turn probably helped to ease the toughness of the obvious answers to this question (i.e. running 42kms each day) as we all knew and could see the very real positive impact our journey was having on a wide array of Aussie kids and families.

You wore some ioMerino along the way – why did you take it with you and how did it perform?

I’m not a big ‘gear guy’ (as my answer to the next question will prove), if it fits and is comfortable I’ll wear it. Having said that over the last few years as I’ve run here there and everywhere in a range of different climates, environments and terrains you start to get rid of the gear that sucks and keep wearing the gear that goes well. I took the ioMerino along for the ride and ended up wearing it in Hobart and Canberra. Both days we started in around 0-3 degrees and finished at around 10-15 degrees, Hobart had a bone-chilling breeze off the Derwent River that was in our face 50% of the time and up our backs the other 50% of the time. The ioMerino performed well, to start with it kept the core warm and as the weather eased off I find it doesn’t sweat too much. With the constant repacking and packing of gear I also found that the merino clothing stank a whole lot less than any other materials.

Boardshorts seem to be a bit of a trademark. What’s the story?

Haha, well…I stumbled upon running in Boardshorts when I stubbornly refused to pay heaps of money for the ‘specialised running shorts’ you see everywhere. I went home, looked through my cupboard and saw about 50 pairs of boardies so thought, may as well see how they go during a run. I kept thinking that at some distance or after some period of time they would get uncomfortable and I’d begrudgingly go back to the running store, tail between my legs and part ways with my cash. However a pair of boardies has been a pretty constant companion for my runs over the past 6 months, they’ve tackled 100km trial runs, 24 hour track loop races and, of course, trips to the beach. The first race I wore them at was Tarawera 2016, anyone that knows that race knows how awesome the support is from the locals along the route, as I was running I found heaps of people loving the boardshorts, commenting on them and it gave a lot of them something to smile and laugh about – so I just kept going with them.

A lot of people always bring up chafing; I’ll quickly go on the record to say that I think the way you run has a much bigger relative impact on chafe than what you run in, but that’s a discussion for another day.

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