Te Araroa track test for runner

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 13/11/2012

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Ultrarunner Richard Bowles is in the midst of setting a big record being the first person to run the Te Araroa track, more than 3000km down the country.

The Melbourne man was in Palmerston North last night on his trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff, which he is trying to run in 60 days.

He got the idea running the Bicentennial National Trail in Australia from Melbourne to Cooktown in north Queensland, 5330km.

It took him five months to complete that and then he was straight on a plane to New Zealand for this run.

"I thought ‘what's next for me?' I can't go back to work."

He will run up to 12 hours every day at an average of 50km and his body is holding up well.

The 34-year-old had come from the other side of Bulls to Palmerston North yesterday and was to head up the Tararua Ranges today and slowly make his way to Wellington.

The Te Araroa Track was a combination of forest trails and includes the Tongariro Crossing, so it was no easy task.

"The maps say one thing, GPS say another, then when you're actually on the ground, it's completely different."

He started on October 13 and while he said it takes most people nine months to a year to complete it, he should reach Bluff by December 15.

He was about 100km behind but will run a few big days towards the end if he has to.

On the longer days he was camping and he said the huts on the New Zealand trails were "four-star hotels" compared with those in Australian.

His day job is a running coach so even when he finishes, he may not have a break.

"When I'm not trying to achieve my own goals, I'm helping people achieve theirs."

He has run the Tenzing Hillary Mt Everest Marathon, was the winner of the 2011 Tasmanian 3 Peaks Challenge and holds the record for the Wilsons Prom Ultra Marathon 2010.

Originally from Leicester in England, he said he wanted to take some New Zealand records on this trip.

He occasionally gets people calling him mad for all the extreme runs he does and one example was a huge run he did on New Year's Day a couple of years ago. "That's when most people are nursing a hangover but I was running across the moors with snow coming in."

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- Manawatu Standard

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