Three Queenstown ultrarunners join 12 other Kiwis in a gruelling international ‘last man standing’ race at Auckland’s Puhinui Reserve tomorrow starting at, of all times, 1am.
Adam Keen, Brandon Purdue and Jub Bryant are in the 15-person New Zealand team competing in the Backyard Ultra world team championship with 36 other national teams.
On the hour, every hour, teams set off on 6.7km loops, with the last team still running laps with a minimum of two runners declared the winner.
The NZ team’s setting off at 1am to synchronise with the United States team, which starts at the more friendly time of 7am — the organiser, Lazarus Lake, just happens to be an American.
To make the team, runners have to have done well at a backyard ultra in their own country in the two-year build-up.
Keen was the best-performed member of the NZ team that competed in 2020, as ‘last person standing’ after 35 laps, or 234.5km — an impressive feat, though the over all winner, a Belgian, completed 75 laps.
The 39-year-old, who also coaches ultrarunners through his business, Aerobic Edge, says backyard ultras are brutal — ‘‘every hour just standing on the start-line, starting again with no end in sight’’.
Purdue qualified this week end by finishing second in Christchurch’s Krayzie Midwinter Backyard Ultra, in July, running for 34 hours, while
Bryant finished third in Dunedin’s Pigs Backyard Ultra in February, completing 29 laps — he was also third in Auckland’s Riverhead Backyard
ReLaps Ultra last year.
The 34-year-old’s got a niggly leg injury, but he’d love to still be running at 6pm on Monday, which would be his 41st lap, as that’s when his
Queenstown mates’ ‘Monday Run Day’ runs.
Bryant says it’ll feel weird running alongside 14 other people for hopefully, at least, 24 hours.
‘‘It’s like, ‘where are the stories coming from now?’’’