The ultra running economist

Many of you who follow me will know that my professional focus is on regional economics, with many projects looking at the role of recreation and leisure activities on our local economies (for example: here is a recent report on biking in Rotorua and another on ski tourism in Queenstown). What many of you probably don’t know is that work is deeply personal for me, and I moonlight as an aspiring ultra runner.

Recently, I finally debuted in a ‘miler’ – the Tarawera miler to be precise – 160+km of running through the beautiful tracks and trails of the Rotorua Lakes.

I am tickled pink with how it went – I finished in 17 hours 52 minutes, and just missed out on my secret goal of a top 10 finish with a 12th place against a stacked international field in the first event for 2023 of the UTMB World Series. As debuts go, it couldn’t have really gone any better for me, even though I still see plenty of room for improvement.

100 miles is a bloody long way to run, and being part of such an event made me appreciate the sense of achievement being felt by all sorts of people, of all ages, stages, shapes, and sizes.

Us ultra runners tend to normalise something that isn’t really that normal and so it has been a pretty cool time for me reflecting. These reflections have left me realising that I am not getting any younger, and I still have a lot of unfinished business to achieve sportingly. I am determined to build on the learnings I have gathered recently to see what I can do!

As a sequel to the Tarawera Miler, I followed things up three weeks later with a third place podium finish in the Motatapu Ultra – a race which traverses 53km and includes over 3,000m of climbing in the mountains between Wanaka and Arrowtown.

My next race on the agenda, is the UTA100 (Ultra Trail Australia) in Katoomba, Australia. This race is on 13 May and will pass through 100km of trails in the Blue Mountains.

Watch this space…