A few months ago I became the first woman in history to win a ‘Backyard ultra’. It’s a new form of long-distance running race designed to be less about how fast you are and more about how far you can run.
The idea is that you have an hour to complete a 6.7 km loop and every hour, on the hour, all the remaining competitors’ line up together to start running again. If you don’t make it back to the start of the loop in the hour you are disqualified. There are no age groups or male/female categories just one overall winner: last person standing. In the Auckland race this year I managed to keep going for 30 hours running just over 200 km and outlasting everyone else.
I started running when I was 18 doing a half-marathon as a charity fundraiser: I walked most of it but I got around! Over the years I’ve continued to run for fitness, stress relief and a general love for the outdoors. With a lot of time and training I’ve got quicker but never dreamed I would ever be fast enough to win something! I have a pretty competitive spirit but have just never had the speed to compete against faster runners at big races. The beauty of this new style of race is that every hour no matter how quick the top runners are you all start again at the same time: I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other!
The prize for winning is a ‘Golden ticket’ to go and do it all over again but this time in the USA, Tennessee on the original 6.7 km loop competing against individual winners and elite athletes from all over the world. Last year the winner at Tennessee ran for 68 hours!
Being the first woman ever to win an event like this I’ll be representing both New Zealand and women everywhere.
After taking some time out to recover from the race I am now deep into training for the world championships. I work full time at Nelson hospital as a doctor so fitting in runs over winter can be challenging but the incentive to get out in the cold and dark has never been higher! You’ll often see me up exploring the Grampian’s after work or on the sea front down in Tahuna, as well as getting out for longer runs at the weekend with the Nelson Fell runners. I moved to the Nelson/Marlborough area from the UK just over a year ago and am still amazed by how many awesome places there are in our own backyard to explore: we really are spoilt for choice.
I’d love to get people involved in what I’m doing, I’ll be at as many local runs as I can be in the coming months e.g the Dun Run hosted by Nelson Events and hopefully some of the Nelson athletics and Harriers events.
To get to the world championships in Tennessee I need to raise around $10,000 for myself and a crew to support me through what could be 3 days of constant running! I’ll be hosting a fundraising quiz night at Speight’s Ale house on 30th September with raffle prizes and a chance to chat about all things running: if you’d like to get a team together to come down or if you’re a local business and would like to support me get in touch!
You can follow my training and eventually live race updates via my instagram @do_your_impossible and give a little pages https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nzlastpersonstanding
Photos by Kunal Kumar