BLISTERED and bloodied feet couldn’t prevent Darlington’s Pat Gleeson from finishing the inaugural Serra Terror in 2010.
Four years on and having completed all four editions to date, he’s still questioning why he pushes his body through the brutal adventure race.
Gleeson is among almost 250 people — a record — taking part in the fifth Serra Terror this Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
The event, which raises money for the Dunkeld community, asks teams of between four and eight to trek 80 kilometres through the Grampians.
The 2014 course starts at the Buandik campground, in the western part of the national park. Participants hike 43 kilometres to McPherson’s Road on Saturday.
They resume from the checkpoint on Sunday and walk to Thermopylae, a further 35 kilometres, before hiking up Mount Sturgeon and into Dunkleld on Monday.
Gleeson has teamed up with good friend Neil Povey, along with Povey’s daughter Sarah Hart and son-in-law Cameron Hart, in a team called Casapan.
His involvement with Serra Terror stems back to when he was principal at Dunkeld Consolidated School in 2010.
“We had a really terrible hall at Dunkeld and I used to complain about it. They said ‘you can do something about it’ and I joined the organising committee,” he said.
But he came close to regretting his decision when blisters plagued him throughout the inaugural event.
“I got to the third checkpoint and the bloke who had designed the course, I said to him ‘look at the blisters, what am I going to do’,” he said.
“He said put Elastoplast on them. I got home that night and when I ripped the Elastoplast off, the skin came with it.
“But you put your foot in the boot the next day and keep going.”
The second year involved crossing rivers in canoes and walking “a kilometre-and-a-half in knee-deep water” while the past two races have been tough.
“Doug Craig designs the course, he’s the brains behind it. The places we get to go and the views we see, he knows all the really great places,” Gleeson said.
“I’ve been doing some training and I found one the other day and it’s magic when you get to those spots, the views are fantastic.”
Povey, who like Gleeson has completed four editions and will receive a five-year pin when he crosses the finish line, said he was looking forward to the weekend.
“It’s certainly something which is quite a challenge to set yourself. You need a reasonable amount of training,” he said.
“A lot of it is in the mind, pushing yourself through the pain barrier … you’ve got to get to a checkpoint by sundown so you’ve got to force yourself through.”
Povey said his team simply wanted to finish on Monday.
“There are some teams that actually run it and that’s just incredible I reckon,” he said.