Tracey tenses for 160km hell

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Tenacious Queenstowner Tracey Woodford will be the only Wakatipu competitor tackling New Zealand’s first 100 mile (160km race) on Saturday. 

Woodford reckons it’ll take her about 35 hours to complete the epic Northburn 100 mountain run being held near Cromwell. 

“That’s assuming I’ll be able to finish it at all,” Woodford says. 

“I’ve never gone this distance before or run at night so I just know it’s going to be brutal.” 

The super-tough course also involves an agonising climb of more than 8000 metres – almost the same height as Mt Everest. 

Since taking up the sport in 2009, the 35-year-old has notched up an impressive string of ultra-marathons across the country, including a 100km run near Rotorua a year ago. 

“Before then I actually couldn’t stand running – it’s weird the way some things turn out,” she says. 

Woodford’s driving force for the Northburn 100 is to fundraise for mental health – her father Charlie died 12 years ago after suffering severe depression. 

“I know dad will be watching and keeping me safe during the race,” she says. 

Woodford will have a support crew of four with her for the event, to help freshen up and feed her during brief pit-stops. 

But she admits she almost pulled out of the race, fearing it might be too hard. 

“I don’t mind admitting I’m scared at the thought of going such a distance as I’ve never run 160kms before,” Woodford says. 

“I’m also going to be up against some very experienced competitors, which won’t be easy. I’m physically fit enough for the challenge but about 90 per cent of it is going to be sheer mental stamina – and that’s going to be by far the hardest bit to cope with.”