After nine gruelling days of aching muscles, mental fatigue and sleep deprivation, Ben Southall (UK), Luke Edwards (AU), and Patrick Kinsella (UK) – aka The Global Adventurers – have completed a world-record setting challenge of running the nine Great Walks of New Zealand back to back.
The goal of completing the Great Walks in nine days was achieved with just 40 minutes to spare, although, as with every adventure in nature’s extremes, not everything went to plan. Extended drive times led to the boys having to run through the night on the 78.4km Heaphy Track, in turn pushing back the start of the Wanganui river paddle, where water levels were too high to safely kayak through night, forcing the difficult decision to leave the river before the full completion of the 145km.
These challenges pushed the boys perilously to the brink, necessitating the superhuman effort of back-to-back ultra-marathons on the final day. The three runners completed the Tongariro Northern Circuit (43km) and immediately took a helicopter to the start of the Lake Waikaremoana Track (46km), where they raced against the ticking clock to finish their 400-kilometre running mission in nine days, 23 hours and 20 minutes.
While disappointed that they were unable to paddle the full length of the Wanganui River Journey, the boys have set a new speed record for the completion of New Zealand’s GW-listed 8 walking tracks, after Mal Law’s ground-breaking 7-in-7 challenge in 2010.
Throughout the expedition a film crew has followed the team, making a documentary for an Australian television network to be aired early next year. Having already appeared on Sunrise in Australia and 3News’ Firstline this morning, the boys will be in Auckland fulfilling UK and Australian media commitments for the next 24 hours, spreading the word about the wonders of the epic landscape of New Zealand.