Gary Parsons – arguably Australia’s greatest ever ultra marathoner
As a young man in Geelong, Victoria, Gary ran track and cross country with moderate success. On relocating to Caboolture, Qld in the early 1980’s, Gary turned to longer distances, training up for his first marathon, the Brisbane marathon in 1986. He was on track for a sub 2:35 time, but approximately 7 km from the finish, while in the lead group, he was sensationally run down by a car from behind and spent the next 10 months in hospital.
Then total disaster! He was told by top specialists that he would never run again and was advised to find some other, more sedate sport.
Not to be deterred, he eventually managed to run again, not as fast as he once did, but at a slower steady pace that gradually improved over time.
After completing several ultras, he contested the world 1,000 mile track championships held at Nanango, Qld in 1994. He won the race, breaking 9 world records in the process. He repeated the performance in 1996, further lowering 10 world records along the way.
In 1998 he ran the Birdsville track in 4 days 03:19 taking 18 hours off the existing record. In December 1998 he successfully completed a summer crossing of the Simpson Desert in 3 days, 20 hours. The Simpson desert is the world’s largest sand dune desert and frequently has summer highs of 50 degrees C.
In April 1999 he embarked on a continuous run around Australia. The word ‘continuous’ is important. It means that he set himself a minimum of 20 kms each and every day. Miss a day… just one day… and the run is no longer ‘continuous’. He ran for a total of 19,030 kms in 274 continuous days, breaking 4 world records. He finished on Australia Day, 26 January, 2000, averaging just on 70 kms/day.
This was further and faster than any other runner in history… a record that still stands to this day.
Gary has gained numerous awards for his achievements and has become very well known in Cabooolture and SE Queensland. In 2002, Gary entered Local Government, winning a by-election as a Councillor of Caboolture Shire, now Moreton Bay Regional Council, a position he held until his retirement in 2016.
He remains a fervent supporter of sport and a healthy lifestyle.
The organisers of Gold Coast 50 (Kurrawa to Duranbah and back) feel privileged to have Gary as its Race Patron.
Gary intends to be at our next race on 11 December, 2016.