Along with Turia Pitt, who was 24 at the time, Kate Sanderson signed up to do the 100 kilometre ultra-marathon in Western Australia in 2011.
Kate was 34, from Melbourne, and had taken part in 17 similar races ranging in length from 50 to 100 kilometres, all around Australia. This race, which ran from Kununurra to El Questro in the Kimberley’s, would likely be no different.
The 40 competitors were warned of snakes prior to the race, and just before they set off, there was a fleeting mention of ‘spot fires’.
It was the 2nd of September, a Friday, when the runners set off. At 9am, it was already 30 degrees.
But only hours later, due to a sudden wind change, Turia, Kate and two male runners found themselves trapped in a narrow, rocky gorge by a grass fire.
Mia Freedman interviews Turia Pitt on No Filter. Post continues below.
There was fire raging behind them, and it was making it’s way up the gorge ahead of them. They were stuck in a roaring inferno, with no way of scrambling to safety.
In a split second, Turia and Kate made the decision to run up the gorge.
Neither woman has been able to describe the unimaginable agony of having your body engulfed by fire.
“I didn’t even look down, I just knew I had been badly burnt,” Kate said during the parliamentary inquiry.
Covered in horrific burns, the two women waited for four hours for help, with nothing but Panadol to treat the excruciating pain. Kate told ABCs 7:30, “there was no shade, we were getting sunburnt on the burns,” and the wait felt like an eternity.