By PHILIP CHANDLER
After Cromwell’s Northburn 100-miler (161km) race, which Adam Carlson had been yearning to run for the first time was cancelled last weekend due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Queenstowner stepped in with his own alternative.
The engineer, who turns 43 on Thursday, instead ran a ‘100-miler’ taking in the peaks around the Wakatipu Basin.
He followed in the footsteps of local ultra-runner James Harcombe, who, it’s believed, was the first person to knock off this challenge last November, completing it in 35-and-a-half hours with 8020 vertical metres.
“I was pretty impressed by it as a route, and the aesethics of it’s pretty nice in terms of a look around the Basin,” Carlson says.
He set off at 6am last Sunday, March 22, his route including the top of the Remarkables, Coal Pit Saddle, Gibbston, Arrowtown, Crown Peak, Macetown Road, Brow Peak, Coronet Peak, Mt Dewar, Arthurs Point, Moonlight Track, Bowen Peak and Ben Lomond Saddle before finishing at Queenstown Bay’s Memorial Gates at 11.20am the following day.
His 29 hours, 20 minutes was six hours faster than Harcombe’s time, however, unlike the latter, he had people along the way supplying him food and drink and other runners joining him at various stages, including Harcombe himself, Adam Keen and Olivia Roborgh.
Carlson also had workmates join him.
“One of my mates, who had been out on a boozy night the night before, ran until he puked and then he gave up.”
In Arrowtown he stopped for a beer, his wife helped him out at Coronet Peak and he also stopped in at his Arthurs Point home for a coffee.
His darkest moment came about 3am on Brow Peak.
“It’s not difficult, it’s just the middle of the night, and I was a bit tired by then.
“I had a bit of a ‘pity party’, you pity yourself for a little while, then you pull yourself together and get on with it.
“At one point, near Arthurs Point, he swapped running for walking for about 20 minutes, as he was falling asleep – “I thought there was less chance of hurting myself if I fell asleep walking”.
“Then I sparked up and found another burst of energy.”
Carlson says running through the night was hard, even though it wasn’t cold or windy, because there wasn’t any moon, so it was hard to distinguish what lay ahead beyond the light thrown by his head lamp.
“With everything going on, it felt pretty good to be out and doing something where I didn’t have to think about Covid-19 for 30 hours.”
Despite having a faster time than Harcombe’s, he’s still in awe of him for having run the route unsupported.
“I thought doing it unsupported was biting off a bit more than I could chew.”
He’d also like this see this circuit dubbed ‘Harcombe Round’, as a nod to Britain’s famous ‘Bob Graham Round’ – a 106km hill running challenge in England’s Lake District named after the person who made it famous.
Asked what motivated him to undertake such a gigantic challenge, Carlson says: “That’s a bloody good question that I don’t have the answer for, to be honest.
“It’s good out there, and you don’t have to worry about anything else except what you’re doing, and it definitely gives you a sense of achievement.”
He’s also so grateful for those who helped him out, at all hours.
“It just speaks to the trail running community and the community around Queenstown that people just get behind you.”
Oh, and the good news is that his 2020 Northburn entry will still be valid when next year’s race rolls around.