21 SEP 1999 General News

Frenchman ready for Australian ultra-marathon bid

22 September 1999 – Perth, Australia (AFP) - French ultra-distance runner Serge Girard has arrived here ready to tackle one of the world's toughest athletic assignments - the 4,000 kilometre run (2.484 miles) across Australia.

Girard, 46, sets out on Friday from an Indian Ocean beach at Cottesloe in Perth, aiming to become the fastest man to cross the vast country to Sydney, on the Pacific coast.

To be successful, he must average a punishing 86.9 kilometres (54 miles) a day and reach the 2000 Olympic Games city by November 8.

His route will take him over the desolate Nullarbor Plain in the States of Western Australia and South Australia.

Girard has twice completed the North American crossing, from Los Angeles to New York. The second time, two years ago, he set a new record for the 4,597 km (2855 miles) run of 52 days, 23 hours, 24 minutes.

In his latest venture, three physiotherapists, a logistician and a French camera crew will accompany him.

Explaining his love for ultra-distance running, Girard said: "It is my life. I am very, very happy when I run. I really come to terms with myself."

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