Round and back - in time for lunch

Grant "Curly" Jacobs, who won the solo round the mountain race at the weekend.
Grant "Curly" Jacobs, who won the solo round the mountain race at the weekend.

Mangamingi's Grant "Curly" Jacobs caught the road marshals by surprise on Saturday.

They weren't in place when the solo runner hit the streets of New Plymouth ahead of the teams in the Taranaki Steelformers Round the Mountain relay event.

"Selwyn [race organiser Selwyn Brown] biked me," he said after finishing the 150km race in 16h51m18s. "I was running by Devon Intermediate and I wasn't exactly sure where to go, so he led me in. That was nice."

Curly said it was his first 150km race.

"I was a 100 mile virgin up until 5pm Friday. I'd never raced over the distance . . . now I have," he said. "It was just awesome running at night. We had a clear view of the mountain, the stars were out. It got a bit windy from Eltham to Opunake, but there was a tailwind from Okato to the finish."

While it may have been his first race over 150km, he's no stranger to ultra distance running.

He's done a few long distance events before. Two years ago, Curly ran the length of New Zealand unassisted, with his dog - Buddy.

"I'd had a melanoma scare and thought I could do a fundraiser for melanoma awareness. Then I thought about it and found it hard to justify being out in the middle of summer cooking myself in the sun. So I turned it into a summer fun run. It took me about two and a half months to complete the run and six months to recover."

Curly said he had run a few 50km to 100km trail events, but nothing like the Round the Mountain event which started at 5pm and finished for Curly just before 10am on Saturday.

"I'm feeling not too bad, a little sore, but that's to be expected. I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep."

Curly, who belongs to the Stratford Harrier Club, is a self-confessed non-conformist.

"I just go and do things I want to do. I'm a glorified DIYer, I renovate old houses. I'm not a builder. I love running and for my 50th this year I went to the Grand Canyon and ran across it from the south rim to the north rim . . . 60km. It was fantastic, it's the biggest hole in the ground I've ever seen. Spectacular."

Curly said he would take a month off now before his next big run.

"I'll do a couple of 100km events early next year. The Tarawera Crossing in March is the next big one . . . but I might also run the Mountain to Surf marathon as a fast training run. That's my summer programme."

As for the $1000 he picked up for being first solo runner home?

"Unbelievable, I can go pro now. It's a great prize, a real bonus."