It's little secret that preparing for and competing in an event such as a marathon is no small task. Months of pounding the pavements, gradually building up stamina and strength, with the end goal of getting around a course 42 kilometres in length takes some doing, which is why the marathon is often held up as the pinnacle of human endurance.
For some, though, simply running uninterrupted over such a distance is not enough of a challenge, and for these rare souls, even bigger tests of endurance await. One of these is the Simpson Desert Challenge, self-styled as the 'ultimate Australian adventure' – and our very own Dr Tom Solano, of Ochre Medical Centre Noosa, has signed up!
He's not doing it simply for the love of a good challenge – he's taking on the Simpson Desert all in the name of charity, and we at Ochre Health are sponsoring his efforts.
A Simpson soiree
Dr Solano and his team of 18 brave trekkers face eight days of mountainous sand dunes, near-endless hot sun and some of the toughest weather conditions known to man as they journey to the geographical centre of the Simpson Desert – some 250 kilometres from their start point.
We took the time to sit down with Dr Solano to find out just why he's heading out into the wilderness, what motivates him, and what challenges he expects to face out there.
Dr Solano and his team of 18 brave trekkers face eight days mountainous sand dunes, near-endless hot sun and some of the toughest weather conditions known to man.
So, exactly why did Dr Solano choose to enter this tough challenge? Simple – to raise funds and awareness for Youngcare, an organisation that are dedicated to helping young Aussies 'live life with choice, independence and dignity.'
"This morning, there were over 7,000 young people that woke up in an aged care facility in Australia, with limited resources and care available. Youngcare is an organisation which provides age-appropriate housing and other services. They do an amazing job of keeping young people out of aged care homes, which for those with high care needs, is usually where they end up," he said.
"Though aged care facilities are good for senior citizens, in young people, much of their freedom and choice is limited in such a setting. I'm very much a big supporter of Youngcare's cause in terms of providing other alternatives to people with higher care needs, especially those who are struggling with living in a nursing home.
"Youngcare are looking to build more relevant housing options and strengthening their connections in the community, which is why I am choosing to support them – to raise funds and awareness for the cause."
The tough conditions of the desert would test even the hardiest of humans. So will Dr Solano ever stop and think 'what on Earth am I doing out here? Not even a bit…
"It is going to be hard, no doubt about that, but I don't think that it can compare to the everyday life of some of these young people (the 7,000 young Aussies with high care needs across the country). I expect the toughest part to be getting the team through the desert over the distance – all 18 of them, plus the support crew," he said.
"There's going to be injuries, there's going to be sore knees and ankles. Additionally, as I am the team doctor, not only do I have to make sure that I am okay, I have to look after the entire team, too!"
I don't think that it can compare to the everyday life of some of these young guys (the 7,000 young Aussies with high care needs across the country).
And Dr Solano's secret weapon? Coffee, of course!
"When I do stop and think to myself what am I doing out here right now, I usually top up with coffee – but there might be a caffeine shortage out there!"
It's not just coffee and fundraising that helps to spur on Dr Solano.
"Hiking across the hot desert, for eight hours a day, without home comforts and only the most basic of food rations is testing, but it pales into insignificance when I think of those young people living with high care needs in inappropriate facilities. A big motivation is seeing the changes that we can make and that's what keeps me going – thinking of those people back home brings me the determination needed to complete this challenge," Dr Solano added.
A TV crew is set to document Dr Solano on his trek, step after step. The programme is going to be shown on national TV, which is sure to add a little more exposure to the good work he is doing. How does Dr Solano think that this will help the cause?
"I'm really excited about the documentary – it'll be sure to raise awareness about Youngcare. What I really hope will happen isn't just limited to that, however. I want people to see the documentary and think 'not only is that a great cause, they are all having a fun but challenging time doing it.'
"I want viewers to see that everyday people can push themselves further and further, and for a good cause. If that happens, even more people will take on challenges for worthy reasons, and that's great news all around!"
We at Ochre wish Dr Solano and his team the very best of luck for his trek. Why not donate to his cause here, leave a little message of support, and discover more about Dr Solano's valiant effort?