By PHILIP CHANDLER
A Queenstowner sets out tomorrow to defend his title in New Zealand’s ‘‘cruellest’’ ultramarathon.
Adam Keen, 37, last year won the last-man-standing ‘Backyard Ultra’ competition, completing 35 consecutive 6.7km laps, each starting on the hour, on a course in Auckland’s Riverhead Forest — notching up a staggering 234.5km along the way.
He was also last man standing in the inaugural contest the year before, completing 28 laps, but was beaten by Katie Wright, overall, who did 30 laps.
Encouragingly, Keen felt he still had a bit left in the tank when he stopped last year.
He says success in the Backyard Ultra comes down to a number of ingredients.
‘‘A lot of people struggle with the mental side of it, just going hour after hour, but I think if you sort of make a decision at the start just to not quit then it kind of helps.’’
He says others struggle with nutrition — eating constantly, say, for 30 hours — ‘‘whereas, touch wood, I seem to cope with that pretty well’’.
Keeping your body in one piece is pretty important, too.
In a normal long-distance run, Keen says you may be able to get over injury niggles, but in this one you have to keep completing each lap within an hour.
In what he calls ‘‘the race with no end’’, he says the Auckland course suits him as it’s a bit hilly — each lap has about 160 vertical metres.
Ideally, he’d also like stormy weather.
‘‘The worse, the better for me, ’cos I think this probably wouldn’t have much of an effect on me but it would probably affect everyone else.’’