Bailey is back and gunning for the Games

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Queenstown mega-distance runner Adrian Bailey hopes his return to racing this weekend will put him back on track for this year’s Common­wealth Games. 

The Kiwi resident from Wales returns to action at the three-day Gold Rush event in Central Otago’s back country, starting Saturday. It’s his first race since a ligament tear in his left foot last December. 

And he believes the race could help put him on course for a last-minute call up for the 100km ultramarathon at the Commonwealth Games in India in October. 

“It’s not out of the question,” Bailey says. 

“It’s just a big ask on the body to hold it all together. I’ve got to think positive and have that goal there.”
Bailey plans to run “sensibly” in the Gold Rush to avoid endangering his chances of wearing the Silver Fern in India. 

He reckons he’s at the “85 per cent recovery” stage and since beginning to pound the pavements again four weeks ago, he’s back to clocking up 120km a week – about half his usual weekly training distance. 

At the Gold Rush, Bailey will run 18km the first day, 15km on Sunday and 12km on Monday – and while they’re short distances, he reckons it’ll still be tough. 

“The competition’s pretty hot,” he says. 

“I would have liked to have a bit more speed in my legs but I’m hoping my endurance racing over the years will help me.” 

Bailey, the Goldrush 2004 mixed team and 2007 men’s open team winner, will be joined by local kayak guru Steve Norton and Outside Sports bike manager Jim Hawkridge for a “pretty competitive” open men’s team racing 375km all up. 

Meanwhile, two local women’s teams are vying for the top spot in their section. Multi-sporters Rachel Rose, Michelle Stalker and Keren McSkimming are teaming up again to aim for first place after finishing second in the open women’s category last year. 

They’ll face stiff competition from Josie Cederman, Jo Phelan and Annike Hesse – Cederman finished seventh in this year’s Coast to Coast two-day open women’s race while Phelan came second in the veteran women’s category. Hesse took 11th place in the Challenge Wanaka open women’s half ironman in January.

Locals’ long haul

While Adrian Bailey sets his sights on the Commonwealth Games 100km race, two other Queenstowners are running that distance this Saturday. 

Tracey Woodford, 34, and Simon Horan, 30, will tackle the second annual Tarawera Ultramarathon from Rotorua to Kawerau. 

Each has only been running about two years, but both completed last year’s Motatapu marathon and December’s 60km Kepler Challenge in Fiordland. 

“The Tarawera Ultramarathon was the only one I could find bigger than 60km,” says Horan, who is aiming for 11-and-a-half hours. 

Woodford, who’s going for under 12 hours, is also fundraising for the Mental Health Foundation in memory of her late father. 

“I’m confident I’ll do it, I’m just worried about the pain and suffering,” she says.