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Australian James Kohler continues to set the pace in the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra, New Zealand's first staged ultra race.
Runners had a rest day yesterday at Loch Laird, near Otematata, after completing the longest stage of the event, a 90km race-defining effort from Lake Middleton to Loch Laird that included a tough climb.
Running in the supported event, Kohler took 10hr 54min, coming home 33min ahead of the leading unsupported runner, Brendon Thompson (Wellington).
Kohler has a 1hr 40min lead over the second-placed supported runner, 59-year-old Australian Peter Kingston, while Thompson holds a 50min lead over Grant "Curly" Jacobs in the supported category.
After four stages, Kohler has a running total of 22hr 15min while Thompson has taken 22hr 56min to cover almost 200km.
Completing as a supported runner, Queenstown's Kerryn Bell remains the fastest woman, lying seventh overall with a running total of 24hr 19min, but has the second-placed support female, Sam Yarnold, only 16min behind.
A vastly experienced ultra-runner, French physiotherapist Florence Morisseau, is leading the women’s unsupported event after taking 14hr 36min to complete stage four, taking her running total to 27hr 36min, just under two hours ahead of Jane Ovington from the UK.
The Back Country Cuisine-sponsored Alps 2 Ocean Ultra started on Sunday with 125 runners from 15 countries, and after seven stages over seven days and 316km, it will finish in Oamaru on Saturday.
Stage five today takes runners from Loch Laird to the Waitaki River, and tomorrow from Kurow to Peaks Rd. Saturday is from Peaks Rd to Oamaru with runners expected to finish from 11.30am to 2.30pm.