Run Across Australia – Nikki Love – Part 2

Ultrarunner Nikki Love stands with her arms outstretched above her head in front of a sign saying Nullarbor Plain during her run across Australia
27 January 2024

On Monday 1st May 2023 ultrarunning adventurer Nikki Love embarked on an epic 4000km run across Australia from Perth to Sydney. This is the second part of my interview with Nikki in which she talks about her distance goals, the dangers she encountered on the roads and the final day of the run. Her route started at Cottesloe Beach in Perth and finished at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Sunday 16th July. Nikki’s time was 76 days 3 hours and 43 minutes.

Read the first part of the interview which covers the build-up to Nikki’s run across Australia, the start of the run, the practicalities of making it work and the challenges involved.

Perth to Sydney distance goals

I’d noticed that as Nikki got closer to the end of the run, she started running longer distances in a day. This seemed counterintuitive as I’d thought she would be getting more tired towards the end. I asked Nikki how she’d been able to run further at the end.

“The goal had been to run 60km a day and that would have put me under the men’s record as it stands. On day 1, I think I got to 55km and I was, ‘Yeah, I’m a little bit behind schedule, I’ll make it up’. The second day was about 50km and then the third day was even less. In those first two weeks, my body had to adapt from running a maximum of 110km in a week to running 420km per week. It was a big ask and everything hurt.

“I was running on the right-hand side of the road on a camber and that was impacting my whole right side. The weather was warmer than the average for that time of year and the traffic was busier than I’d anticipated. All that combined was really hard, but I knew I had to hang in there and keep going. I was taping my body up to deal with the physical pain and trying to keep my head in the game even though I was dropping down from the target. I just kept saying, ‘Well I’m here, I’ll keep going’.”

Nikki Love ultrarunner over 50 on her Perth to Sydney run. Nikki stands in front of a large sign saying halfway across. She is holding a banner listing her sponsors.

Nikki at the halfway point on the Perth to Sydney route at Kimba


“It does get easier. I’ve experienced this adaptation phase before. It will get more comfortable. Not painless, but more comfortable. The distance will become normal.

“In the past, adaptation has taken two to three weeks. This time it took at least four weeks before I was in a steady routine of being able to run 50km a day. I bedded that in for a week or so and then started the incremental rise as I went further and was able to stay out on the road for longer. I had the feeling that it was becoming my normal. ‘I can do this. Let’s just push it a bit more and a bit more.’ I grew stronger. I trained into it.

Once I reached that 55km mark I said, ‘I have to do at least 55km a day’. I set that as my minimum. There was just one day when I ran 50km. I ended up running 56 consecutive ultramarathons (50km+).”

Dangers on the road

Nikki explained that one of the main dangers on the road was drivers. Either drivers who were not paying attention or drivers who were deliberately aggressive towards her.

“Cars presented a real danger that I hadn’t fully anticipated but had to learn to adapt to. Towards the end, on a day when I had done over 55km, I had been nearly hit by a car. My nerves meant I just needed to stop. I was having a really bad day. And it wasn’t just that one car. There’d been several cars that day that had come extremely close. I needed to stop and calm down.

“I started listening to binaural beats at the end of my run to calm my brain down. I was in such a high state of stress. There were many days where I was physically shaking because it had been so scary on the road. I needed to calm my brain down so that I could sleep.”

Aggressive drivers

“I counted five cars who drove towards me and went into the hard shoulder towards me and were looking at me, hands in the air. That was just nuts. I could see them. I was able to step out of the way. Some cars would not bother going off the white line of the hard shoulder. Some would wave and toot and there was a handful of people who were very aggressive.

“If I saw a big truck coming and there wasn’t much of a hard shoulder, I would cross to the other side of the road so that the truck didn’t have to veer out.

“The traffic coming up behind me posed a risk. If a car or truck overtook, they were coming over to my side of the road. The driver looked to see if another car was coming, they didn’t notice me, they weren’t looking for a pedestrian. If I could hear that happening, I would step off and go into the gravel. But there were times when I couldn’t hear it and they didn’t notice until they were right on my shoulder, so close. Had I wobbled a bit I would have been hit. That happened many times.

“I tried to look big and when there was more traffic, I ran all day with my hi viz.

“It was just luck that I didn’t get hit. It was my responsibility to make sure that I wasn’t on the road. But I couldn’t run on the gravel because most of the time it was on an incline, or there were spiders and snakes and rough ground. And when you’re trying to run 4000km it’s hard to run on rough. I had this feeling that I wasn’t meant to be there. This road wasn’t designed for me.

“As I got closer to Sydney the traffic became heavier. And my focus was more on the traffic than on the distance. Whilst I was aware of the distance dropping down from the road signs, I kept on thinking “Well I’m not there yet, I’ve got to keep running”.

The last day

“Even on the last day, I don’t think I let it in my head that I was about to finish this thing. I was telling myself, ‘I’ve got to survive this, make sure I don’t fall over, step into a pothole, get run over’.

“I don’t think I actually appreciated it. It still felt like it was just another day that I had to run.

“As I was coming through Sydney Nedd Brockmann, the guy who’d done it before me, had done a shout-out, so I had quite a few extra followers. People knew that I was coming so I had some people standing out on the road waiting for me to come by. That made me feel like I was a little bit famous.

“About 10k from my finish line a man came to run with me. I’d only had one other person run with me and they’d run just short of 10km and that was way back. Apart from that, I’d been on my own all the time. He ran with me, and we were talking. I’d taken a couple of wrong turns by this stage. He said he knew the route and would make sure I was OK.”

Perth to Sydney – the finish line

Nikki Love ultrarunner at the end of her 4000km Perth to Sydney run at Bondi Beach. Nikki stands on the sand near the water's edge. She is wearing her yellow hi-vis jacket with the words Perth and Sydney on the front. She holds her right hand in front of her in a victory sign.

Nikki just after arriving at Bondi Beach

“Then another group of people came and joined me so there ended up being quite a group of us. Because we were chatting, I wasn’t really taking much notice of where we were. All of sudden they said, ‘There’s the beach’. This was something I’d been anticipating for so long. I thought I ought to stop and take photos. I wanted to take it all in. I got a photo of my first view of the beach and then ran down to it.

“We ran along together and the two guys who were with me said, ‘Have you got a finish line?’ and I said ‘No, I don’t think so, I just need to get to North Bondi Surf Live Saving Club’. They’d seen some red and white police tape that was wrapped around one of the barriers along the promenade. So they ripped that off and ran ahead of me and went up to the club and held this little piece of tape out so that I actually had something to cross over.

“My mum and dad were there, my sister was there, my nephew was there. Sharif had been floating around on an electric bike for the last bit of the run. There were a few other people who turned up. It was just amazing, very overwhelming, to realise that this thing had actually finished. I still haven’t allowed time to let it all sink in and now I’m getting really emotional because I don’t really think about it too much. It was massive.”

Nikki’s next phase of adventuring is going to university. She is in her first year of a Sports Psychology degree at Loughborough University. As the only mature student in her cohort, Nikki told me she felt quite out of place at the start of her first term. But she was persevering and trying to take what she’d learned from running into this academic adventure. Nikki is blogging about the Sydney to Perth run and her university experiences. Unsurprisingly to those who know her, Nikki is already thinking about her next running adventure.


2017 interview with Nikki before her 63 marathons in 63 days challenge.

2020 video interview with Nikki – Ultrarunning and the Menopause.

Nikki’s website

Female ultrarunners over 50 – my look at participation in UK races by women over 50.

Check out my recommended blogs list which features several ultrarunners over 50 from the UK and USA.

Australian ultrarunning history – races that British runner Eleanor Robinson took part in.

Phil Essam’s Australian Ultramarathon History website


All pictures by Sharif Owadally who was Nikki’s support crew.

Nikki is the first woman to attempt to set a Guinness World Record on this route. She has submitted a claim to Guinness World Records for the fastest journey on foot across Australia (Perth to Sydney) by a woman.

The current men’s record is held by Donnie Maclurcan who ran from Perth to Sydney in 67 days, 2 hours and 57 mins from 5 January to 13 March 2002.

In 2022, 23-year-old Australian Nedd Brockmann, completed the route in under 48 days. His feat attracted a lot of support and media attention, and he raised a huge amount for charity (ABC news report). It is thought that he has not submitted this to Guinness World Records.

Nikki has submitted her data to the Fastest Known Time website and they’ve accepted it as the Perth to Sydney FKT (see here).


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