When friends Trudy Randell and Tracie O'Brien signed up for the half marathon at the Dubbo Stampede, they never expected they would be forced into lockdown and only able to exercise for an hour a day.
Ms Randell and Ms O'Brien live in Melbourne.
Despite never having been to Dubbo, they saw the Stampede had gone virtual and were instantly drawn to the event. They had been training together every Wednesday and Saturday until last week when stage four restrictions were introduced.
"Now we're stuck in a five kilometre radius from home and we live 20 kilometres apart from each other, so we can no longer train with each other," Ms Randell said.
ALSO MAKING NEWS:
"To actually live what we're living through is horrible. One person from the household is only allowed an hour of shopping a day to a supermarket, to a chemist or the butcher. You have to be home by 8pm at night unless you're at work.
"So one hour of exercise a day is not enough, especially when you're training for a long event."
Ms O'Brien said she had been in lockdown ever since she got back from hiking the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in March. Living alone under the harsh restrictions, rarely leaving the house or seeing her children, had been "hard and fatiguing", the Melbournian said.
But running has helped keep Ms O'Brien sane.
"Running and walking has always been my sanity, it keeps me on an even keel," she said.
"If anything ever gets too much I just go for a walk. I used to go for a walk every lunchtime when I was in the office. And anything that happened in the morning, by the time I got back in the afternoon it was gone and I could start the afternoon with a clear head."
It's similar for Ms Randell, who describes running as her "me time" when she doesn't have anyone else to answer to. She started running in 2014 when her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"I thought 'what can I do? I can't help her'. I picked up running," she said.
"My first running event was a half at Melbourne and my mum flew down from Sydney to be there with me. I got to the 18k mark and I just fell in a heap. I thought 'I can do this anymore'. And then I thought 'hang on a sec, my mum as just gone through chemo, she's lost both her boobs. If she can do that, I can finish this run'.
"To see her there at the end was just absolutely amazing."
The duo became fierce friends in 2018 when the person Ms Randell was travelling to Tasmania with dropped out.
"Tracie used the spare ticket. We realised we lived in so many similar areas, we followed all the same sports, we just hit it off from there," Ms Randell said.
When it was announced they could only exercise for an hour a week, the runners got in touch with the Dubbo Stampede committee to find out their options.
They could have submitted a previous 21 kilometre run, but instead, they'll complete the half marathon in across three days during the time they're allowed to exercise.
Ms Randell said the committee's communication had been "unbelievable".
"We decided that next year if we're allowed to travel out of Victoria we'll actually go to the Dubbo event because they have been just fantastic," she said.
"They've been so sympathetic and so compassionate and understanding. I can't rate them highly enough."
Ms O'Brien said it had been "heartbreaking" that they couldn't do the event together, but they weren't going to give it up.
She said the Stampede committee's response, and allowing them to compete in three parts, had made all the difference.
"I think Victoria has copped a lot of flack in the media and on social media, and it's really hard to watch so to actually have people come out and want to help, and help us achieve our goals, it was really nice of them," she said.
"It made you feel not as hated."