Ultrarunner’s record pipped

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By PHILIP CHANDLER

A welshman’s followed in the footsteps of Queenstowner James Harcombe to break his staggering record for running around Wales’ coastline.

Welsh-born Harcombe took 20 days, 12 hours and 55 minutes to run the 1400-kilometre Wales Coast Path in 2017, breaking the existing record by four days.

Early this month, Welsh ultrarunner Rhys Jenkins, 32, broke his record by just 2 hours and 19 minutes.

Harcombe, who was 20 years older when he completed the feat, says he’s ‘‘totally fine’’ with that — ‘‘records are made to be broken’’.

He’d heard about Jenkins’ attempt beforehand, ‘‘so I approached him and said, ‘look, is there anything I can do to help you or any information you need?’’’

Harcombe says near the end he thought he might keep his record as Jenkins had fallen quite a bit behind.

‘‘But on the second to last day he did 88km and finished after midnight, then started at 5 the next morning.

‘‘If he’d started at 8am [as he did every other day], he wouldn’t have done it.

‘‘I sent him a message saying, ‘congratulations, well done’, and he said, ‘I thought about you every day’.’’

Jenkins told a UK publication:  ‘‘James is a true gentleman and set a tough benchmark … to beat.

‘‘I feel incredibly honoured to take the record from such a fantastic ultrarunner.’’

Considering his Welsh heritage, Harcombe says it was a bit funny to see comments on how Jenkins had taken the record back from New Zealand.

‘‘In fact, he’s not Welsh-speaking whereas I am.

‘‘Like I said to Rhys, ‘as long as it stays in Welsh hands, I’m quite happy for you to take the record’.’’

As it happens, Harcombe still holds one record from his 2017 mission for the 1742km full circumnavigation of Wales.

He notched up that one five days after breaking the coastal path record.

‘‘I did suggest to Rhys he carry on and try for the other record, but he said, ‘bugger off’ — the Wales Coast Path was enough, apparently.’’

scoop@scene.co.nz