NZ long distance running record a 'sham'

Perry Newburn says he'll never know how far his support team drove him on his length of NZ run....
Perry Newburn says he'll never know how far his support team drove him on his length of NZ run. Photo: NZME
Perry Newburn says his mind became so frazzled running the length of New Zealand that he will never know just how much of a sham his supposedly record-breaking feat was.

"I wake up every morning and my stomach just turns thinking about it."

Newburn, who spoke to Hawke's Bay Today this week, has been in the eye of one of the biggest storms to ever hit the long-distance running community in this country.
It looked as though Newburn's laudable attempt to break Siggy Bauer's four-decade-old record, and raise money for Idea Services charity, had been successful when he arrived in Bluff after 18 days, 8 hours and 42 minutes of running late last year.

It supposedly beat Bauer's record by 19 minutes and Newburn claimed the record - posting it on Facebook - a decision he instantly regretted.

He later shared that he would be disclaiming the record to his thousands of Facebook followers because he had been driven small distances for safety reasons.

One of Newburn's support crew, Graeme Calder, reportedly said last month that Newburn's post grossly misrepresented the level of assistance he received and the record attempt was a "sham".

Calder estimated Newburn was driven 350km of the 2100km journey and did not wear a GPS tracker.

Newburn says even now he can't recall how much he was driven as he was exhausted and fatigued and would often sleep in the car.

He told Hawke's Bay Today he felt it was about 200km.

"Whether it was 1km or 500km, I still couldn't claim the record.

"If I knew the full answers to why I was driven I'd tell you - some of those parts are a haze, I was pretty much dead on my feet at times.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but you can't change what's happened."

Newburn says when he wasn't sleeping in the car, he was often running "dead on his feet".

Towards the end of the run, Newburn says he fell asleep while still running, crossed a busy highway and ended up going back in the opposite direction.

So why didn't he stop?

"Stupidity - I don't know," he says simply. "I was caught up in the hype of it all, but if I could go back and do things differently I would."

Newburn says he takes full ownership for what happened and doesn't want to make excuses for his actions.

One of his biggest fears was how Bauer would react, so he reached out to a friend who was in contact with him.

"I did it as soon as my mind was clear enough and put it on social media that there was no record to be claimed. I just wanted that passed on to him, he's one of the greats of New Zealand running."

Newburn has run across America, averaging 94km a day and experienced similar circumstances.

"There were times where I didn't even want to get out of the vehicle but I had to, so I told them I'd see them in 5km so they left and I had to get to them. I'd get that second, third, fourth wind.

"During this run there were some nights where I didn't even get any sleep. At times I would have come across as quite lucid, again, I don't want to make excuses, it's just what happened."

Newburn says he's still running around Hawke's Bay, but wants to let the dust settle before another big venture.

"It's the old story - learn from what's happened and that's what it came to. I love running and I still am. It's kept me quite sane, to be honest."

"I remember the run I did around New Zealand six years ago and one of the main messages I was pushing was the positive effect that any form of exercise has on mental health.

"It doesn't matter if it's running, walking, biking swimming - it just helps clear the head.

"But if you do long distances with lack of sleep - it certainly has the opposite effect."

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