Hihglight: Adam Carlson at the highest point of his Otago Central Rail Trail run, between Oturehua and Wedderburn


A Queenstown ultrarunner’s likely to have set the fastest known time for the 153-kilometre Otago Central Rail Trail.

Adam Carlson, 43, ran the popular cycle trail two weekends ago, from Clyde to Middlemarch, in 16 hours 48 minutes.

A year ago, Hawea’s Isaac Walker ran the other direction in 22hr 2min.

Ironically, each runner undertook the feat because they’d not been able to run the Great Naseby Water Race 100-miler (161km), held round the same time.

In Walker’s case, he pulled out as his son was ill, but in Carlson’s case, this year’s race, like so many others, was cancelled due to Alert Level 2 restrictions.

This was the second time this year Carlson’s substituted an organised run for one of his own making.

In March, he replaced the canned Cromwell Northburn 100-miler with a 100-miler around the Wakatipu Basin’s peaks, following in the footsteps of another local ultrarunner, James Harcombe.

He completed that gut-buster in 29hr 20min.

Carlson’s first long run was only seven years ago — the Motatapu marathon from Wanaka to Arrowtown.

‘‘At that stage, it seemed lunacy to try and do ultras.’’

Asked what the buzz of ultrarunning is, he says ‘‘I don’t know, to be honest with you, [but] what I can never get over is how quickly the hours go by’’.

‘‘You start, and next thing you know, five hours has gone by.’’

But he can explain why, twice this year, he’s run his own race when the one he’d entered was cancelled.

‘‘You’re geared up to try and achieve something that’s difficult and it’s hard and it’s going to take a bit of perseverance.’’

Carlson says he doesn’t think about ‘‘anything except for what I’m doing’’ on the long runs.

‘‘If you let your mind enter into it too much, it will just tell you it’s all hard work, and give you reasons to stop.’’