By PHILIP CHANDLER
Maybe the delays were worth it.
Queenstown ultrarunner Adam Keen’s had to cool his heels twice this year following Covid-caused postponements to an Auckland-based last-person-
standing event, The Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra.
It’s on again this weekend, but this time as part of a worldwide challenge organised by American Lazarus Lake, founder of Tennessee’s annual Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra.
Teams of 15 from 20 countries are taking off simultaneously — in Auckland’s case, at 1am tomorrow — and aiming to complete, on the hour, a 6.7
kilometre lap till they drop.
The last team still running laps with a minimum of two runners wins.
Keen, 37, was the last man standing in the inaugural New Zealand event at Auckland’s Riverhead Forest last year.
He completed 28 laps before conking out on the 29th — the last person standing was Nelson woman Katie Wright, who completed 30.
He and Wright are in NZ’s team, along with last year’s other top-three finishers and other handpicked ultrarunners.
Having to have two people still running in this international war of attrition — what Keen calls ‘‘Satan’s beep test’’ — adds more of a team element, he says.
‘‘Imagine if it gets down to America and NZ and there’s two people each country [still competing] — that would be crazy.’’
The other difference is every country’s night-time course will be on a road rather than a track, which Keen expects will take five minutes off teams’ course times and elongate the race.
However, he says NZ will be a bit on the back foot starting at 1am rather than, say, 7am, as in the United States.
‘‘Starting at 1am, you kind of miss out on that sleep, whereas the Americans will have had a full night’s sleep.’’
Keen, who’s also started a personal training business this year, AerobicEdge, says the postponements have been frustrating.
‘‘It’s been pretty much train, taper, cancel, train, taper, cancel.’’
He’s clocked up more than 3100km in training this year, mostly around Queenstown, including about 138,000 vertical metres — ‘‘that would be a few Ben Lomonds or Mt Everests’’.
His weekly regime’s 100km to 150km with 3000m to 5000m of climbing.
Hourly progress this weekend can be tracked via a link to Keen’s AerobicEdge Facebook page.