Gutsy stuff: Ultrarunner Adam Keen knocking out another lap in Auckland's Riverhead Forest


KEEN by name, keenest by nature.

Queenstowner Adam Keen proved he’s New Zealand’s gutsiest long-distance runner by winning a gruelling last-person standing competition last weekend.

In and around an Auckland forest, the 37-year-old ran for 35 hours, completing a 6.7km lap each hour to notch up 234.5 kilometres.

He was competing in the NZ edition of an international version of American Lazarus Lake’s Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra.

Teams from 20 countries competed simultaneously with 15 runners each.

Keen took the NZ competition by running one more lap than Dunedin’s Glenn Sutton.

‘‘I felt pretty good, I could have kept going — I still had a few loops in the legs,’’ he says.

He was also last man standing in last year’s NZ-only Backyard Ultra, but ‘only’ completed 28 laps and was lapped by Nelson woman Katie Wright, who completed 30.

He says last weekend’s race was all about ‘‘staying in the fight’’.

‘‘There’s going to be problems and there’s going to be challenges, but you’ve just got to think in terms of solutions and how to manage everything.

‘‘There’s no Plan B to just stop or quit, you’ve just got to fight your way through and hope nothing serious goes on that you can’t kind of fix.’’

Keen, who needed about five changes of running shoes, might have had more laps in his legs, but soon after the race, he and Sutton fell asleep in their chairs while nursing beers.

Altogether, Team Kiwi completed 361 laps and ran about 2400km.

The international comp was won by Belgium, whose top runner completed 75 laps.