The impossible run returns

It’s been described as the event that is set up for competitors to fail rather than succeed but for the 40-strong field, just taking part in the Revenant Ultra Adventure Run is as close to winning as they will get.

The second annual Revenant will take place between January 17 and 19 at Welcome Rock, above Garston, on Blackmore Station, where competitors will be challenged to cover more than 190km and 16,000m of vertical ascent in 60 hours with only a map and a compass to guide them.

Nobody finished the inaugural race in 2019, a fact that was expected by race organisers.

“There was always a chance someone may have completed the race in the first year, however I thought it was unlikely and hence I wasn’t surprised with last year’s results of no finishers,” race director Scott Worthington said. “I designed the race to be a learning experience. In other words you have to do your time to get the final result. So the fact that no one finished last year showed the race design and format are working as planned.”

The closest to finishing in 2019 was Ian Evans, from Wanaka, who was the only competitor to reach the second lap of the three-lap course, Mr Worthington said.

“He lost his map and an important envelope, which all competitors must carry and show between each lap. He spent a number of hours searching for it, having dropped it somewhere on the course. Once he realised that the time it took to look for the mission items had eroded away his chance of meeting the lap cut-off time of 30 hours he pulled out of the race.”

Mr Worthington said another competitor, Alastair Shelton, completed two laps but was well outside the 30-hour cut-off. A new feature will be added to the 2020 event called “The Box” which contains “good news” for the competitor who finds it and will “enable them to go further in the race”.

Mr Worthington said entries were up for the second running, with 110 starters expected from 12 different countries.

He said he was excited for the event’s return in 2020.

“The fact that we have the majority of the originals returning and a number of new competitors from here and overseas shows that the competitors not only enjoyed the event, but share the same passion and vision I had for this type of race. This is what excites me.”

He said the event attracted a wide variety of adventure seekers.

“The Revenant is designed for people that want a challenge but specifically for people that have a very special definition of what a challenge is. That is, a challenge being something where failure is the most likely outcome… obviously the location has also attracted competitors, especially those from overseas. But it’s the format and the special type of challenge that is the attraction I believe.”

This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here

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