Ultrarunner’s break-out year

Awesome result: Benje Patterson finishing fifth in Ultra Trail Australia in May

Arrowtown’s Benje Patterson winds up a stellar first year as an elite ultrarunner with his second 100-miler (160km) this Saturday.

The 36-year-old economist’s tackling the Brisbane Trail Ultra 100-mile event after finishing 12th in his first 100-miler, the Tarawera Ultramarathon, in the North Island, in February — in 17 hours 52 minutes.

‘‘As debuts go, not that many people run a 17-hour-something 100-miler.’’

In hindsight, though, he felt he didn’t handle the nutrition side very well, causing him to suffer at the 100-110km mark.

‘‘I didn’t consume as many gels as I should have, and the body just began to shut down.’’

Just three weeks later, however, he finished third in the 52km Motatapu Ultra Run between Wānaka and Arrowtown.

Then, in his first 100km race, the Ultra Trail Australia, in the Blue Mountains in May, he finished fifth in 10hr 23min.

‘‘I was stoked,’’ Patterson says.

‘‘Despite having a few speed wobbles at times, I really just nailed the nutrition and was able to come through strongly, even in the latter stages.’’

Patterson’s been running most of his life, and believes his experience competing in shorter races has helped with his speed in longer runs.

He only got into ultras after moving to Arrowtown about three years ago — ‘‘I think Arrowtown was a bit of a gateway drug’’.

Friends would take him on running missions and urge him to go ever further — ‘‘next thing your two hours turns into five, then 10, and next thing you’re running through the mountains with a head torch’’.

He says this Saturday’s run will be tougher than Tarawera as it’s got more than 7000 metres of climb, as against 3000m, ‘‘so if I break 20 hours that would be a really good time’’.

His focus, however, will be more on just keeping a controlled pace and nailing his nutrition.

‘‘I really want to build my confidence to come back to Tarawera early next year and really nail it.’’

If he does that, qualifying pathways for world events will also open up, he adds.

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