A little more than a month ago, British ultra-runner Jez Bragg set out on an attempt to run the length of New Zealand, north to south, in a record time of just 50 days. To accomplish this feat, Jezz would have to cover 3054 km (1897 miles) along the epic Te Araroa Trail, a hiking route that begins in Cape Regina and ends in the small town of Bluff. Now 35 days into his journey, I thought it would be a good idea to see how far he has come and what challenges still await.
As of today, Jez has now covered 2214 km (1375 miles), leaving him with just 840 km (521 miles) to go until he is done. That puts him on pace to break the record, as he is currently knocking off about 60 km (37 miles) per day. If he continues at that rate, he’ll finish up in approximately two weeks and right at his goal of 50 days. Of course, a lot can happen in two weeks and there is still a lot of ground to cover, but so far you have to be impressed with his progress.
Throughout the run, Jez has been posting brief updates to the Te Araroa Expedition site and more detailed accounts of his experience on his own blog. Those reports have not only conveyed a great sense of the challenges he faces while attempting to run such long distances each day but they also serve as a great travelogue to what the Te Araroa Trail has to offer. This relatively new hiking route crosses through all kinds of terrain, including lush forests, rugged coastlines and of course beautiful mountains.
It hasn’t been all running of course. There has been the occasional stream or lake to paddle, which we knew from the beginning. But perhaps the biggest challenge thus far was crossing the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands. That paddle was a crucial part of the entire expedition and while it was delayed a bit due to weather, Jezz and a few companions were able to hit the water and make that crossing, despite strong headwinds and tidal currents. After that, it was back to the trail where he continued running south.
With just two weeks left to go, it seems that Bragg is doing well, feeling good and feels optimistic about his chances. We’ll know soon enough if he manages to set a new record, but either way this has been an impressive performance so far.