An event of 'cosmic' proportions…


“Travel has taken me to some far away places.

Past expeditions have taken me to some really remote corners on this planet.

But Solar Eclipses have taken me to places I’d never thought I’d go to…”

Ben Southall


I’m an Umbrophile, an eclipse chaser. Not an eccentric, science-coat wearing boffin, nor a stargazer or astronomer but someone who is fascinated by the stars, our planet and the universe.

Back in August 1999 a Total Solar Eclipse plunged the south west of the UK into total darkness for around three minutes. It was a life-changing experience. For the first time I really got an appreciation of how the celestial mechanics of the Solar System work. If you ever needed evidence that we are just a ball of rock orbiting around the Sun with other balls of rock…a Total Solar Eclipse is it!

At the time I turned to my friend Owen and said “that was SO damn cool…we HAVE to be at the next one, wherever it is in the world!”

True to our word, two years later we drove from South Africa to Botswana to witness the next one. Then a year later we repeated our mission and headed up the east coast of Africa to Mozambique for the next.

Ten years later I’m based here in Queensland and you guessed it, there’s another Total Solar Eclipse about to happen right here in the Sunshine State.

Eclipse2 Eclipse3

On November 14th 2012 the moon will once again block the sun’s rays from our planet for a few minutes, with the line of totality happening right over Port Douglas.

To celebrate this astronomical event they’ll be festivities happening throughout the Tropical North with one of the biggest being the Solar Eclipse Marathon.

With around 3000 people expected to enter the race, the official starting gun will be the exact moment when the sun reappears from behind the moon, blanketing the area in daylight one again.

This weekend as a prequel to the Solar Eclipse Marathon, the Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival was held and I headed north to find out more about it.

Ready for the off Four Mile Beach at 6:30am

With a half marathon (21kms) and an Ultra marathon (74km) on offer I opted for the shorter of the two and took a camera with me to film people’s reaction to the event and their thoughts on next year.

This has to be one of the most picturesque routes I’ve raced along in a while. The first 5kms take you along Four Mile Beach with the waves lapping at your toes, you then wind into the base of the rain-forest, through the sugarcane fields and finally past the marina before taking the finish line back on the beach road.

Next year the Bump Track will be used as the route, winding 42kms from the south of Port Douglas into the town.

Bookings are going gangbusters already for the event and they’ll be a huge rush for accommodation AND places in the marathon so to find out more and not miss out on this cosmic event visit:

PD1 Half Route