Conquering the giants
Ultramarathon: Running over the mountains in Italy for six days straight with only 10 hours sleep was what Emerald's Doug Strachan faced to reach his new personal best.
With more than 15 ultramarathons (more than 50km) under his belt, Strachan raised the bar to complete his toughest yet.
Tor des Géants (Tour of the Giants) is a 339km race up to more than 30,000m altitude around the northern Italian border with Switzerland.
Nearly 1000 of the best runners in the world came together to beat the challenge, all facing chronic sleep deprivation and extreme exhaustion.
Despite the rough conditions, Strachan said he had a team of support behind him.
"It was a real battle to stay focused and safe,” he said.
"If you are found asleep on the course you are immediately disqualified.
"But each day I was given another written message from our Emerald running family to spur me along the way, it was very cool.”
Of the 890 starters, only 534 finished the race and Strachan placed 361st, a huge effort for a Central Highlands man.
"It was completely rewarding and totally exceeded my goals,” he said.
"The world's best are there or have attempted the race, so to earn a finisher's sweatshirt is a huge honour.”
Strachan competed against tough, professional runners and said of all the entrants he was the weakest runner in Australasia.
"I knew because I was one of the weakest runners there I had to get everything right and the most important was the five people I put around me,” he said.
"I put together an awesome crew of five women, all tough ladies who are mentally strong.
"There wasn't one disagreement in the team, it was definitely a team effort that made me finish.”
Immaculate planning and execution by his team meant Strachen didn't have to use any of the medical help, blister people or massage team on hand.
"We smashed it. My team and I are now friends with the best adventure racers in the world and are being invited to all sorts of things, not because I got in the top 10 or top 100 but because of how we roll,” he said.
"My crew blew the locals away.”
The toughest race he completed also held one of the best backdrops.
"The scenery was just magnificent,” he said.
"I'll do it every year that they let me.”