SYDNEY (AFP) – An Australian man completed a gruelling run that looped the world Friday, having done the equivalent of a marathon a day for more than 20 months in what he hopes is a record.
Tom Denniss, 52, began his endurance test on December 31, 2011 at the Sydney Opera House and since then has travelled more than 26,000 kilometres (16,200 miles) on foot, crossing deserts and mountains over five continents.
His run, which has raised some Aus$53,000 (US$49,000) for the charity Oxfam, is yet to be certified but he hopes it will be a world record -- smashing the current circumnavigation on foot mark set by Dane Jesper Olsen in 2005 by 40 days, organisers said.
"All the attention is a bit overwhelming from being out in the middle of nowhere for so long," Denniss told reporters as he ran across the finish line at the Opera House to cheers from a crowd.
The ultra-distance runner said he put himself up for the arduous journey for the adventure and "just to see the world in a very different way to most people".
By early this month he had completed the New Zealand, North American, South American, European and Asian legs and returning to Sydney on Friday completed the Australian section and capped 622 days on the road.
"I've always enjoyed being out on the road in the countryside, and running ever since I was about 12 years old," he said.
"I just thought how can I really take this to the limit."
Denniss, who was sponsored by a digital commerce group, said he always believed he could finish, but admitted there were some tough times, including the sapping heat of the Australian Outback and perilous roads in the Andes in South America.
"I almost didn't make it running over the Andes," he said. "The road was snowed in and I had to try to get around and I almost fell down a 1,000 feet ice cliff.
"I managed to crawl back but it was such a dangerous situation. I could have slipped at any moment and gone over the edge."
The father-of-two said several incidents with snakes had made the run interesting, but the scariest times were the two occasions when his wife Carmel, who had driven each leg with him, had a gun pointed at her in the United States.
He has no regrets and even his body has held up well over the distance, with Denniss saying: "I haven't got any niggling pains at all".
For now, he will take things a little easier.
"I will have a bit of a rest and I'm certainly looking forward to celebrating," he said.