Fire Runner

It's been two and a half years since Melbourne ultra-marathon runner Kate Sanderson came close to death in a rocky gorge in Western Australia's remote Kimberley, trapped by a wildfire with nowhere to go. "We all knew you're not supposed to run in front of a fire or run up a hill but they were the two options we had so we thought we'd go up the hill." Kate and five other runners hoped the summit would be rocky with shelter from the inferno raging at their backs, they couldn't see that it was covered with grass - until they were there and it was too late. "I literally looked behind and it was seconds away i could feel the heat already i didn't have time to do anything just crouch into a little crevice. Now alone and terrified, Kate tipped the last of her water over her head seconds later fire was everywhere. "My shoulder was alight so i just stood up without thinking to pat it out and the fire came round and i just knew i was going to die and i just thought this is what it's like to die in a fire and i just started running and because it was on such a steep hill i just fell and fell and fell and i think falling extinguished the flames and i just got up and couldn't believe i was still alive." Alive but with severe burns to 60 percent of her body her friend Hal heard her screams and came running to find her.

"I could see by the look in his face that i was really bad cos he just had this, i just knew what he was looking at and knew i was really badly burnt. "Her close friend Turia Pitt was also severely burned.Event organiser racing the Planet failed to have a medical chopper on standby, forcing Kate and her fellow runners to wait an excruciating four hours for rescue. After three weeks in a coma Kate spent six months in hospital undergoing around thirty operations - and there are still more to come.

For many - after all of this - returning to the Kimberley would be unthinkable. But not so for this remarkable 38 year old Kate's preparing to go back for the first time since the fire to ride the 700 kilometre Gibb River Challenge. and raise money for the Royal Flying Doctors which helped save her life. Despite a natural tendency for shyness Kate's determined to help the RFDS and so she's braving a temporary moment in the spotlight to host a public charity luncheon.

Scott Chapman heads up the RFDS in Victoria and says the service is vital for the whole of Australia. The Royal Flying Doctors tend to a patient every two minutes across the country a service costing 270 million dollars a year to sustain. But for Kate, Turia and thousands of other Aussies over the past 85 years - it's undoubtedly money well spent.

Information on how you can sponsor

Kate Sanderson :

Kate O'Sullivan:

For Further details on the charities

Royal Flying Doctor Service :


Gibb Challenge: