On Thursday 7 January 2021 I undertook a day-long expedition within the Derwent Legislative Council electorate. The expedition was an Ironman triathlon format: swimming in the Derwent river, cycling up the Central Highlands, and running through the suburbs of Claremont, Austins Ferry, Granton, Bridgewater, Gagebrook, and Herdsmans Cove.
The purpose was twofold: to raise awareness of my campaign for Derwent and all animals and to raise funds for the campaign.
I have to admit though that I rarely pass up a chance to challenge myself physically and mentally and it seemed another good way to get around. Now that this challenge is over, I will start door knocking every door I can get to between now and the election that is due in May. I bet I will learn a lot more during that endeavour.
At 4:15 am my long-suffering wife drove us (myself and coach Peter McKenna of Try a Tri fame), from home in Claremont, to our start point in Bridgewater ready to meet up with a phalanx of TV and other reporters. I joke of course. I invited them but it was a bit early. After pushing through the weeds, reeds, and river debris we entered the water and although it was still dark, we noticed a few fish startled out of the shallows. I thought again of our inconsistent values in that we protect and revere some water creatures but have no trouble eating others.
After wading out for a short way, at 0500 we started swimming. Peter took some wonderful video footage which emphasised to me later just how lucky we were to be there. It was magnificent. To experience the valley, the suburbs, the sunrise from the dark water was a privilege which I don’t take for granted. On one hand we were experiencing sensory deprivation within the dark water and on the other hand feeling, tasting, smelling, and seeing above water, things, and sensations almost, but not quite alien.
At 0630 after 4.1 kilometres, we left the water at Dragon Point in Claremont and wandered up the hill and got on our bikes. We then rode a 186 kilometres round trip via New Norfolk to Bothwell and return. We live in a violent society and this was emphasised to me on this journey. It was easy to lose count of the pedestrian casualties on the roads. At times I imagined how quickly we would force changes to happen if they had been human pedestrian casualties.
I have hit a human pedestrian while driving a bus. It’s not a nice feeling. In my case I never got in any trouble at all. The police reassured me that it was not my fault. Another time, an old cantankerous kangaroo would not move from the centre of the road so I actually tapped him with the front of my car before he would move. Maybe he had dementia or maybe he just wanted to say something to me. I know that sometimes kangaroos will mourn their dead mate, child, or parent for years. They revisit the remains or the spot where their companion died and linger, over and over again.
And yet, many of us dominant, impatient humans won’t even stop when we are involved in a collision. If we do, I know the first thought for many of us is to check the damage to our vehicle. This behaviour, this clash of values makes me cry sometimes but I do understand where it comes from.
You see I’m a cyclist and so I am aware that there is a very small segment of drivers out there that treat me as if I am almost just another animal in their way.
I am just another reason to slow them down enough to stop them getting from A to B in a new record time. I’m not exaggerating.
You don’t have to go far to find people who use their vehicle as a weapon to kill wildlife on the roads – and they brag about it. Thankfully, most people treat me with care while I am cycling. I suspect that they are also likely to stop and attend to an animal if they accidentally hit one, and they would be upset even when it was not their fault.
The link between cruelty/violence towards animals and domestic and other forms of violence is well established. You either approve of violence or you don’t. I suspect that under scrutiny, nobody will admit to approving of violence and yet?
Right now, I am thinking that it might be worthwhile to start a campaign to remove dead animals from our roads. Included in that will be a petition to mandate that drivers must stop and attend to any animal they hit. I understand that legislation would be difficult to enforce at the moment but on odd occasions it could be. Maybe in the future drivers would then slow down when animals are out and about. Better that than piling up more roadkill victims!
Eventually about 5:30 pm we finished the ride, and I started the run which was to be 42 kilometres. It wasn’t long and my lack of training and age showed up and all I could manage was to walk. Although I have done a few endurance events over the years, on this night I went further into pain and misery than I have ever been.
As I tried to get the numbers up on my GPS watch, I was hallucinating, and I think I saw snails overtaking me. I let them go while keeping some forward momentum happening until I stopped at about 2:30 am Friday. Luckily, the computer readout later on said 42.16 kilometres. The normal distance for a marathon as part of an Ironman distance triathlon is 42.195 kilometres but I’m taking that as a win.
Ivan Davis is the Animal Justice Party’s candidate for Derwent. “I am working for kindness for all animals including humans, and against cruelty and violence. I recognise that although I might be smarter than a pig or a kangaroo, that does not give me the right to treat them with any less dignity than I would want for myself.”
Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2021/01/ironman-for-derwent-animals/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ironman-for-derwent-animals