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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Run a question of how ‘deep’ athletes can go

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

As the old saying goes, ”to finish first, you must first finish” but for competitors in the Revenant Ultra Adventure Run, simply having the opportunity to compete in the event is winning itself.

The inaugural run is set to take place on January 18 above Garston in Southland on Blackmore Station, Welcome Rock.

For the majority of the 40-strong field, finishing the event will be impossible.

Competitors were picked for the event after an application process in which they had to prove they were capable of trying to cover more than 190km and 16,000m of vertical ascent in 60 hours with only a map and a compass to guide them.

Race director Scott Worthington said the event was unusual as it was set up for competitors to fail rather than succeed.

”It’s about testing yourself as a human being to see how far you can go with this. You’re basically giving somebody a structure and an environment to go and test themselves in a true sense…

”It’s about coming and having a go and this is not about starting at the start line and finishing. It’s actually more about the challenge about how far and how deep you can go in this challenge.”

Worthington said the idea for the event came after years of unsuccessful attempts to enter the infamous Barkley Marathons in Tennessee, in which only 15 people have finished the 160km course since it was first held in 1986.

The event will be the first of its kind held in New Zealand.

Applicants for the event had to meet strict criteria to to show they were capable of taking on the gruelling course and rules. Seventeen people were declined.

Two doctors will be on stand-by during the 60 hours of the event. However no more assistance will be provided for those taking on the course.

Although some people were critical of the limits it placed on competitors, Worthington said they did not quite understand exactly what organisers were trying to achieve in the challenge.

”They don’t really get it, because what they’re applying is the standard of here’s the start line, here’s the finish. Really, simply, this is not about what time will I take to finish; rather the question of there’s A to B, chances are you can’t get to B so don’t worry about it, just see how close you can get to B before you literally give up.”

Spectators will be able to follow the progress of the event during a live Facebook feed and the start will be hosted by former All Black Ian Jones.

Worthington said plans were already in place for the event to take place annually and hoped it could run successfully for at least 10 years.

This article was originally written for The Otago Daily Times. You can read the published version here

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