By Trevor Jackson
OVER the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have turned to various different ways to keep themselves entertained.
For Mount Gambier resident and avid runner Michael Mustart, the recent South Australian seven-day lockdown threatened to derail his training regime for an upcoming 65km ultramarathon through the Grampians in late August.
Rather than sit back disappointed, Mustart found a novel way to circumvent the situation – running a marathon around his own yard.
It may not sound too unusual, but Mustart lives in the city boundaries with only a short amount of space on hand.
But he did the figures and worked through the situation then set off on his solo voyage.
“As part of my training, on the weekends I do a long run,” Mustart said.
“With the restrictions I have only been able to run an hour and a half, so that’s where the idea grew from.
“I thought if I run it on my own property I am within the COVID guidelines so I thought I would run a marathon in my yard.
“I pretty much mapped out how far I could go in my yard and worked it out to be about 150 metres.
“I was going around my backyard, down the driveway, along the front median strip then spun around and went back.”
The actual distance of a marathon worked out to 266 laps of the course, which Mustart said was a bit monotonous.
But he also had a fix for that.
“I just changed direction every now and then in the backyard, clockwise, anticlockwise, more to take the wear and tear off my hips than anything,” he said.
“I said to the kids ‘how about dad runs a marathon and you can watch?’, so they cheered me on in between gaming out the window and in the yard, so it was good.”
Mustart said it must have looked a bit strange for passing traffic as he ran up the median strip then turned around, with a few toots of support, despite no one realising what he was actually doing.
It was also far from a futile effort, as Mustart suggested it was quality training.
“I still had the same calorie burn and did a fairly decent pace,” he said.
“I did it in a touch over five hours, which is pretty good for a marathon.”
Mustart has been running for many years, including ultramarathons and couple of 100km events.
He said he drew inspiration from a 24-hour run he did a few years ago, where he raised $8500 for the Stand Like Stone Foundation.
“That was a bit of a crazy idea and I don’t mind doing things a bit out of the box when it comes to running,” Mustart said.
“I also have my kids 50/50 and I can’t leave them at home when I do a long run, so it killed two birds with one stone.”
Another offshoot of the run was its traction on social media, which surprised Mustart.
“I decided to put it on my social media page to motivate some of my friends,” he said.
“There are going to be people who are genuinely doing it tough, so I put it up for a bit of inspiration.
“People seem fairly fascinated by it for some reason.
“Maybe they just like seeing people do bizarre stuff … I don’t know.
“It also proves it can be done … there is no excuse if you can’t leave the house.”
Mustart said he would definitely do it again and may even tackle a 100km course.
Overall he was pleased with how it all panned out in the current coronavirus climate.
“It hasn’t been easy on a lot of people,” Mustart said.
“I suppose it was just to lightly entertain people.
“I was surprised how popular it was on social media … I never looked at it like that.
“It was just get out and run in your backyard.”