Welcome to my blog. The title originates when my primary athletic activity was competitive walking, but now that I am back to running it also includes that.

Not all content is accessible from the main page: for example, the rogaines, racewalking, and ultramarathon pages all include content that is only accessible from those pages.


Ultramarathons are any event longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles / 42.195km. Standard distances for ultras are 50km, 50 miles, 100km, and 100 miles. There are also 12 hour and 24 hour track runs, and multi-day "stage races".

I have currently (September 2012) completed 30 ultramarathons, plus 1 DNF at about 66km at the Molesworth Run. Reports for most events are provided below.

See also


Rogaining is the sport of long distance cross-country navigation. Events can be as short as 2-3 hours or the standard 24 hours. Teamwork, endurance, competition and an appreciation for the natural environment are features of the sport. Rogaining involves both route planning and navigation between checkpoints using a variety of map types.

GN Phillips and RJ Phillips, Rogaining, 3rd ed, 2000

The two main umbrella organisations for rogaining in New Zealand are: My reports for selected events are provided below.

Hiking and Mountains

The Hiking, Trail Running, and Mountains pages are all inter-related, but with some subtle differences:
  • Hiking is not an organised race, and may include Coastal Adventures, activities in the Mountains, and hiking in other locations;
  • Trail Running covers organised events, some in the mountains, but others on local hills and trails; and
  • The Mountains category covers both events and hiking in various places that can be classed as mountains.

  • Racewalking

    Racewalking only has to meet two technical requirements:
    • no loss of contact, as judged by the human eye; and
    • the leg has to be straight from the moment of first contact until it is upright.
    More detailed rules are here.

    I'm not particularly good at racewalking, often falling foul of the straight leg rule. But I still give it a go and here are the results of my endeavours.


    This blog is primarily about my walking activities, but sometimes I do run. Here are reports for events where I have run.

    Shorter Races

    I classify events as ultramarathons, marathons, rogaines, and "shorter events". So a "shorter event" is just something that is shorter than a marathon and is not a rogaine. Consequently there's a mixed bag in here: running, racewalking, half marathons, 10k and 5k races, , etc.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    New NZ Walk Records and Centurion NZ C16

    NZ C16
    How to sum up a race that lasted a full 24 hours but only went round in very small loops? Perhaps the best place to start is the results:
    • NZ 50 mile walk record (9h:49m:16s);
    • NZ 12 hour walk record (97.940 km);
    • NZ 100km walk record (12h:15m:22s);
    • Completed my first ever 100 miles in 21h:37m:55s;
    • My 100 mile walk qualified me as Centurion NZ C16;
    • Completed a total distance of 174.460km for the 24 hours.
    I had divided my race into three stages: the first stage to 100km; the second stage was from 100km to 100 miles; and the third stage was from 100 miles to the finish at 24 hours. I had time goals for the first two stages and a total distance goal for the third stage.

    Stage 1: the first 100km

    Before the race I had been very careful to tape any places on my feet that I thought might blister, including double-layered telfa pads so that they would take the friction rather than my feet. But after only a few of hours I could feel a hot spot on each heel and knew that I was still going to get blisters. I could stop and deal to the hot spots, but I didn't know what I would do differently. I was also aiming for various records and stopping would cost valuable time. So I kept on walking.

    50 Miles
    Heather checks on me as I go through 50 miles
    My target pace for the 100km would give me the NZ walk records for 50 miles, 12 hours, and 100km. Everything went pretty much to plan and I steadily closed in on 50 miles. A few laps before the 50 mile mark I was told I was about 10 minutes under the previous record, and so it proved to be. The existing record was 9h:58m:28s (Gerald Manderson, 1999), and I recorded 9h:49m:16s.

    By this point I had noticed that my left foot was feeling a bit wet. I assumed that this was because a blister had popped. I'm getting used to such things so I didn't give it too much thought and just carried on towards 12 hours and 100km.

    As 12 hours approached the fatigue was taking its mental toll. Mark Gray stood at a point on the track just before the start/finish line and told me that the record was 5km from that point. 5k on the track is 12.5 laps, which means that the existing record would be at about the 200m mark in 12.5 laps time. Simple. Except it took me a while to figure that out at the time! Mark was standing at the record marker as I got there, and from memory I was able to complete another 500m before the 12 hours was up.

    No time to rest after the 12 hours, as the 100km target was only a few minutes away. I had hoped to do 12h10m - which seemed a reasonable target given my road time - but I never seem to do as well on the track as I do on the road and was a few minutes slow. As the 100km approached I picked up the pace again and went across the line in 12h:15m:22s. This was a good 5 minutes faster than the existing official record of 12h:20m:33s (Peter Baillie, 2005) and also faster than my time at the Taupo 100km earlier this year.

    After the 100km and the first view of my feet
    It was now 9:30pm and time to prepare for the night. I stopped (relatively) quickly to change into warmer gear. The seat was ready for me, I sat down and got my first look at my feet: my shoes were blood soaked! Never mind, it might have looked gruesome but my feet weren't particularly painful and I couldn't think of what could really be done to fix the problem that wouldn't take a long time to do. So it was warm top on, jacket on, shorts off, Skins tights on, shorts back on, shoes on, and go.

    I was expecting to slow a bit after the 100km but, oh my goodness, this was something else again! It was so difficult to get going again, my feet were sore and my legs were stiff. My average lap time instantly increased by 33 seconds a lap and I couldn't bring it back down.

    Stage 2: Centurion Qualification

    The next target was 100 miles. I had a time goal for 100 miles and wanted to break the record, but after a while it became clear that I was going too slow for that. Not to mind, 100 miles marked another very important aspect of the race: qualification as a New Zealand Centurion. Centurion qualification is generally awarded to those who walk 100 miles in under 24 hours, under the scrutiny of judges to ensure that the person actually is walking. Prior to the race only 14 people had qualified as Centurions in New Zealand, and I wanted to be C15.

    100 Miles
    There were three walkers aiming for NZ Centurion qualification: myself, Rudy Schoors (Belgium), and Caroline Mestdagh (Belgium). Rudy and Caroline have both walked 100 miles multiple times and are Centurions in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, USA, and now New Zealand. I had a large lead on Rudy by the time I got to 100km, but then I slowed and he did not. As 100 miles approached he was closing rapidly. The lap count on the day indicated that when I reached 100 miles Rudy was less than 400m (1 lap) behind me! But subsequent checking of the scoring showed that one of Rudy's laps had been missed and he was less than 400m ahead of me.

    Walking a lap with Rudy
    I slowed again immediately after completing the 100 miles, allowing Rudy to catch me up. Having both completed 100 miles we shook hands and walked the next lap together. I then needed to leave the track for a few minutes for a bathroom break while Rudy continued on.

    Caroline was some distance behind Rudy and me, but also went on to complete her 100 miles and qualify as NZ C17. Both Rudy and Caroline completed only a couple more laps after reaching their 100 miles, enough to ensure that if there was a lap counting error they would still have made 100 miles.

    New CenturionsNew Centurions
    The new Centurions: Rudy Schoors NZ C15, Andrew Shelley NZ C16, Caroline Mestdagh NZ C17

    Stage 3: The Remainder of the 24 Hours

    I had thought it was hard getting to 100 miles, but everything suddenly became so much harder again. There was still just over 2 hours remaining in the event and there was a significant temptation to stop now that I had achieved 100 miles. It seemed that I thought about stopping with every lap. But I also wanted to see what total distance I could do, and I was now in 4th place on the leaderboard and didn't want to just give that placing away. So I trudged on.

    Graeme Butcher had a bad time of it during the night and I had eventually caught him and passed him as he just slowly walked laps. But with the sun appearing and obviously feeling better he started to run again. He pulled back the laps and eventually caught and passed me, relegating me back to 5th place - the same place that I had been seeded at the start.

    24 hours was fast approaching and it would soon all be over. Sandy Barwick walked my second-to-last lap with me and we talked about things I cannot yet remember! Then it was the final lap and time to put in a final sprint. I charged around the last lap faster than I had walked for many hours, crossed the start/finish line again with a few more seconds on the clock, and made it 60m down the straight. The hooter went and it was all over! I put my finishing block down where I was, marking a total distance of 174.460km.

    Lap Times and Speed

    The chart on the left (below) shows my lap times throughout the event. Up to 100km the laps were generally under 3 minutes per lap, except for the odd lap where I had a short break. Immediately after 100km there was a longer break as I changed into warmer gear for the night. My lap times then increased by a bit over 30 seconds a lap and then slowly drifted up. The chart on the right provides an alternative view, plotting speed for 10km blocks. Up to 100km my average speed was a little over 8km/h. After 100km my walking speed immediately dropped to 7km/h, and then after 130km continued to drift down. There was another drop after 100 miles, but then a pick up in speed over the last few km.

    Lap Times
    Time per lap. The upward spikes show laps with stops for reasons such as bathroom breaks.
    Speed Distance
    Average speed over 10km blocks. The heavy line shows my walking speed. The lighter line shows the average speed including stops.


    Food Schedule
    Page 2 of my food schedule. The time
    schedule recorded every lap!
    Many thanks to Heather Andrews who did a great job as support crew, keeping me fed and watered, and a wonderful job of keeping on top of various schedules. She continually monitored my position and checked in with the official lap scorers to ensure that my records were timed. And she kept on top of food schedules and drug schedules in a way that would have been impossible by myself. Checking back over the food record it turns out that I ate more than I thought I had, which can only be a good thing in an event that lasts this long. And thanks also to the racewalkers who came along to the track and offered their support, especially David Sim who also assisted Heather with record keeping and Mark Gray who could give me feedback out on the track. It was a long and very cold night for supporters. Thanks also to the Sri Chinmoy marathon team for their efforts in organising and running the event. Each and every lap was acknowledged by our lap scorers, and they were positive and cheerful throughout the 24 hours.

  • Official race report and detailed results
  • Preview article in the NZ Herald
  • My photos on Flickr


    Post a Comment