Renowned British ultra runner and The North Face athlete Jez Bragg began an expedition that will take all of his mental and physical energy for the next 50 days: a nearly 2,000-mile run the length of New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail.
The Te Araroa Trail (1898 miles/3054km) opened in December 2011 and runs the full length of New Zealand from the top of the North Island in Cape Reinga to the bottom of the South Island in Bluff. It rivals some of the world’s greatest long distance trails such as the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail in the US. The majority of the route is off-road, through challenging and remote terrain presenting all sorts of different challenges. There are also some short road sections and several estuary crossings as well as a long down-stream paddle on the Whanganui River.
Jez will, for the majority of the expedition, run solo with a ‘fast and light’ strategy. Since he is used to running ultra-races such as the 104 miles/168km The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®, he plans to complete the route north-to-south in a period of less than 50 days, averaging between 37-50 miles (60-80km) per day for the full duration. Supported by a support crew of two, medic Dr Mark Taylor and expedition coordinator James Ashwell, the team will follow him in a motor home providing logistical support where possible. Jez expects to encounter long stretches of trail where support won’t be possible, and during those periods he will carry a fast-pack setup to provide complete self-sufficiency. On the South Island, where the terrain is particularly challenging and accumulative fatigue becomes more of a factor, Jez will be joined for intermittent running support from his US teammate, Mike Wolfe.
Jez will wear products from the Spring ’13 collection including the Better Than Naked short sleeve, short and jacket; the Stormy Trail jacket and Hyper-Track Guide shoes, along with customized products provided by the product department to his exact specifications.
Before heading out, Jez said: “Running this trail has been a dream of mine for several years and I have followed its progress with great interest. For me, ultra running is all about this type of adventure; the opportunity to explore remote and challenging landscapes in a very raw and pure way. There is no better way to explore a country like New Zealand with such outstanding natural beauty than to do it by foot. The work that has gone into getting this trail together to its eventual opening is simply mind-boggling. It will be a great honor to be one of the first to run it and hopefully showcase everything the country and the trail, has to offer. It will truly be an adventure of a lifetime.”