Californian ultramarathon runner Ray Sanchez does some stretches while Northburn 100 organisers Terry Davis (left), Tom Pinckney and Glen Christiansen prepare Northburn Station for the ultramarathon this weekend. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Through searing heat in India and California's Death Valley,
through ice and snow in Minnesota and even through
hallucinations, Ray Sanchez runs up to 265km in a single race
"just for fun".
The 45-year-old Californian ultramarathon runner said the fun
of it, and competing against himself rather than the other
runners, is what gets him through the gruelling races.
He has only been running ultramarathons for a few years but
is already one of the best in the world and believes he is
the only one to have completed all 217km races in the
Badwater World Cup - through the desert-like Death Valley in
California, through the mountains of Brazil and Germany,
through the snow in Minnesota and through high altitudes and
temperatures in India.
The former Olympic-hopeful boxer is a mechanical engineer by
trade and said travelling around the world to races such as
these was his "vacation time".
This week he flew to New Zealand to take part in the
Northburn 100, a 160km race over Northburn Station near
Cromwell, this weekend.
It is the second year the Northburn 100 has been held.
The event offers 50km, 100km and 160km races which have been
labelled as "brutal" by last year's competitors.
New Zealand ultramarathon runner Lisa Tamati came up with the
idea and joined forces with Northburn Station owner Tom
Pinckney, Tourism Cromwell board members Glen Christiansen
and Emma McDonald and race director Terry Davis.
Mr Davis said he had run the course about three weeks ago to
check it out and had given names such as "the loop of
deception", "loop of despair", "death climb" and "Tom you
bastard" to sections of the course.
Despite the names, organisers say it will be a fantastic
Mr Pinckney said they were expecting 70 runners this year, 18
more than last year, and with the likes of Mr Sanchez coming
to race, he hoped interest in the Northburn 100 would grow
significantly in years to come.
Racing begins at 6am on Saturday and competitors have 48
hours in which to finish the race.
Last year's winner, Martin Lukes, of Christchurch, completed
the full 160km in 25hr 44min.
Mr Sanchez hopes to finish in 20 hours.
He said his advice to fellow competitors and those wanting to
get into running was to relax, have fun and look at the