On July 13, (Jed) Henley Phillips and his wife Katie Visco are setting off on an expedition to cross the Australian Outback from the northern coastal city of Darwin to the Southern coast at Adelaide.
Though traveling together, the two will be moving in very different ways. Katie will be running an average of 30 miles a day in an attempt to complete her second transcontinental run, and Henley will be supporting her solely by bicycle, pedaling around 300 pounds of gear, food and water at a time.
The 2,100-mile route largely avoids major highways and instead follows lesser traveled dirt roads, or “tracks” as their known in Australia, and crosses three major deserts along the way.
While automobile traffic is not a risk, the remoteness of the route poses other logistical challenges, such as 300-mile stretches without services, utterly barren landscapes with no respite from the sun and a whole slew of potential wildlife to be wary of.
“People have warned of us all kinds of things to watch out for - scorpions, dingoes, spitting camels, even flying snakes - but I think our biggest concern is staying hydrated and hoping that the bike doesn’t break down under the load. That wouldn’t be good,” Henley said.
Katie ran across America in 2009 from Boston to San Diego with vehicle support and a rotating crew of family and friends. For this run, the pair have chosen the bicycle as a support vehicle to keep in line with their love for human-powered travel.
“When I ran across America I stayed with hosts along the way and therefore had access to a lot of comforts and conveniences,” Katie said. “Crossing Australia will be very different because we’ll be camping in the bush and won’t have access to things that were crucial for my run in 2009 - ice baths for my feet, abundant water to clean up and home-cooked meals.”
In addition to the daily to-dos of such an undertaking, the two will be filming the journey with plans to produce a short documentary for friends, family and film.
“Neither one of us is a filmmaker, but we’re both really excited to see what we can do, Henley said. “Running and biking is no big deal. Breaking out the camera when we’re tired, hungry and frustrated is going to be the challenge, but that’s probably where the good stuff will be.”
Henley and Katie currently live in Missoula, Montana where they have been training and planning for the past eight months.
You can check their progress, read more about the expedition and make a donation to their fundraising campaign at www.katievisco.com.
You can also find up-to-date photos and content on Instagram @henley.phillips and @katievisco.
Henley Phillips was born and raised in Glen Rose and is a 2006 graduate of Glen Rose High School.