By far one of the most inspirational stories we’ve ever heard. When we found out what Tristan Miller, one of our Australian based members had achieved, we simply had to share it.
Renowned for completing a whopping 52 marathons in 52 weeks, in 42 countries on every continent on the planet, Tristan's journey is truly inspiring and an epic example of what we are capable of if we set our minds to it.
Now with a successful career in tech, two children and of course more marathons to run, we were lucky to pin him down for a beer whilst he was visiting New Zealand recently and ask him a bit more about his story.
First up, tell us a little about your background and what lead you to run like crazy?
It's a long keynote speech, but really this was a culmination of experiences that had me disillusioned with the path I'd taken in life. I got to 28 years old, with an Arts Degree, a job selling radio, a broken marriage resulting in a truck load of debt and a drinking problem. I'd done everything I thought would get me ahead in life, but instead I felt like my life was in hock to the bank and I was personally directionless.
Then a mate I was working with at the radio station encouraged me to go for a run with him. I rejected the idea outright, but he was persistent and I caved. We covered 8km in an hour - not fast, not easy, but steady and rewarding. Everything changed that day!
How long had you been running before you decided that running a marathon every week for a year was a good idea? What kind of length runs did you start with?
That was back in 2005. I built up to my first half marathon that year, then my first marathon - the old Melbourne Marathon course took you from Frankston, along the bay to the Arts Centre. It was bloody tough and I really had to dig deep to get to the finish line. I was pretty beat up at the end, but I’d completely surprised myself that I was capable of running that kind of distance. I took up the mantle of “Marathon Runner” and decided I could do more with that. I used it as my way of dealing with problems and inspiring myself to be more than I (or anyone else) expected. I even started advocating to all my mates and convinced a number of them to run the Melbourne Marathon in 2006. It became a big part of my identity in the years that followed and I ran some ultra marathons, like the 90km Comrades Marathon in South Africa.
Then a few years later, I lost my job with Google in the Global Economic Crisis when they shut the Melbourne office. I knew it was time to do something different, so I planned to go running around the world in 2010.
Having such an ambitious goal that requires complete dedication for such a long time... were there many times you wanted to give up? How did you power through?
I am pretty good at committing myself to a task. Sometimes I over-commit and it can absorb my life. I don’t play computer games for this reason, as I don’t think I’d pull myself away. The upside is, I went all in on this year of running. I sold everything I owned, including my apartment in St Kilda to pay for the trip. I pulled in every favour I could for the exposure to raise funds for charity. I asked friends to lend a hand where they could and even to travel to see and support me. With so much of my energy being tossed into these races, it was easy to question whether I’d make more than a month, let alone a year. But I focussed on the fact that all eyes were on me and I didn’t want to let anyone down. And I wanted to believe it was possible for me to do the impossible! A total ego play.
I was really busted up a few times, especially when I ran a 100km trail run in Mongolia and got food poisoning afterwards. I threw up for 2 weeks on the Trans-Siberian railway and dropped from 70kg to 64kg in the first week. Sure, I wanted to stop then, but I was already half way through the year and I didn’t want to give in.
By the end of that year, I was pretty thin, I’d pulled my toenails out to stop the repeated infections and I was coughing up blood in Antarctica. But I made it. I got it done.
(Tristan running his 51st marathon in Antartica)
How did you feel once it was done? How did you know what to do next and maintain momentum?
A mate of mine is a psychologist and he told me in the back end of 2010 that if I completely stopped running after 2010, then I’d stop the big spikes of hormone - testosterone, seratonin, endorphins - that I’d been pumping into my brain and through my system each week, I’d have a mental and physical crash. I really didn’t like the sound of that, so I promptly entered the Marathon Des Sables for April 2011 - 250km over 6 days across the Sahara Desert. And I just kept running after that too.
(Running the Great Wall of China Marathon.)
What role does running play in your life now?
I’m a running coach and a regular runner myself. I’ll do 3 marathons this year - flying to the Gold Coast as I write this to run the marathon there, my 86th career marathon (doesn’t include the 20 ultras). It’s very important to me to stay fit, healthy and happy, so running is my vehicle to do this. And I have young kids now, so I’m constantly chasing those critters around!
Having worked for two of the biggest tech players in the world (previously Google and now Shopify) do you have any advice for people entering the tech industry?
It’s never too late to get into tech! We’re starved for people to bring passion and creativity to this ever evolving space.
What’s the appeal of Asuwere to your lifestyle?
I love feeling that I’ve got a style guru watching my back. I have very simple style tastes, which would tend towards running gear only if I had my way. By having the Asuwere team giving me tips on how to keep my wardrobe up to date and look good professionally as well as socially, it makes me more confident. And I work in software, so I’m shining in this gear every day!
Is there anything else you do besides running to unwind?
Running is my escape. I have two kids that make me laugh like crazy too, so I love being a Dad. Turns out middle-age is suiting me just fine.
Worst shopping experience?
I absolutely hate shopping malls. If I never step in another Westfield, I’ll be content with life. They’re just soulless with no real personal connections being created. I feel like I’ve joined a community at Asuwere.
Thanks for your time Tristan, I think most of our readers would agree that what you achieved still seems unfathomable. Such amazing drive, crazy endurance and to top it all off you're a top bloke.
Great to have you on board.