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Australia lost its greatest ultra marathon runner Bryan Smith28th Stage
When 16 runners remained in the BigRedSky Trans Australia Foot Race reaching Penong last night they seemed relieved that they have completed the toughest stages within the Race of Fire through the Nullarbor Plain. After 16 days in the harsh Australian environment, the runners and crew were organising how they were going to spend their first night in civilisation. However destiny intervened putting a question mark into the future of the race. To start the journey for today, Bernie Farmer the Race Organiser gave an inspirational talk to the runners stating how proud he was of them all of what they had achieved. These words by him touched all the athletes and crew. Then tradegy occurred when three kilometres into the stage to Ceduna, Victorian athlete Bryan Smith aged 57 passed away. At his first drink stop he complained that he felt dizzy shortly before falling to the ground. Bobby Brown and Paul Every who were running 20 metres behind him were unable to revive him together with Brian Jackson who is Mick Francis's support crew.
The stage was immediately stopped and all the runners congregated at the hospital in Ceduna. They waited quietly till the hospital staff called them to pay their last respects to the greatest ultra marathon runner in Australia. Runners and crew were in a state of shock and the hospital staff provided a debreifing to deal with the grief. Race organisers informed them that the future of the event will be announced this evening purely based on the wishes of his widow Janet. Running across Australia was a long time dream of Bryans and this will be taken into consideration.
From all the runners, support crew and organisers of the event. Bryan epitomized the true spirit of this race. Always smiling, forever giving of his time and experience. This exceptional, humble and extremely gifted athlete and gentleman will be most sorely missed by all us athletes, support staff and organisers of the BigRedSky Trans Australia Foot Race. His spirit will live on in everyone of us for the duration of this race and for the rest of our lives. He will be a huge hole to fill as he has touched the hearts of all. Rest in Peace.
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