Dunedin’s ultra superman back on track and loving it

Dunedin runner John Bayne pounds the track during the IAU 24hr race in Canberra. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dunedin runner John Bayne pounds the track during the IAU 24hr race in Canberra. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
They call him Dunedin’s ultra superman.

Others might refer to him as a glutton for punishment.

Dunedin runner John Bayne has got a taste for long — as in, long — distance track running again after finishing the leading New Zealand male at the IAU 24hr race in Australia recently.

Bayne, 59, finished sixth at the event, run by the International Association of Ultrarunners and held in Canberra for the first time.

The Leith club runner completed just over 573 laps of the standard 400m track for a staggering grand total of 229.447km.

"The body is pretty destroyed, to be honest," Bayne said after his epic run.

"Although I had a good build-up, this type of repetitive race beats the muscles up pretty badly due to the lack of variation.

"I’ve got a few more days hobbling along beaches in Australia to aid recovery. Can’t get the running shoes on yet — feet are way too sore."

Bayne broke his personal best of 209km for 24hr of running with about two hours left on the clock in Canberra.

"Normally, in the final push for home, the adrenaline starts flowing and I can muster some extra pace.

"Not this time. The legs were so broken all I could do is tick over the laps until the end."

He still managed to break four New Zealand age group records during the ultra run.

Records are now his in the 55-plus category for 6hr, 12hr, 24hr and 100-mile running.

"This has got me more interested in racing track again, so watch this space."

He worked with coach Sebastian Bialobrzeski for nine months leading up to the Canberra slog, and had his No 1 supporter beside him.

"A key aspect to longer ultras is having a good crew, and my wife Karen is brilliant in this role, managing to decipher my needs from my mumbling, arm waving and facial expressions."

It was a third crack at a 24hr event for Bayne.

He ran for New Zealand in Turin in 2015 but was battling a lung infection, and he won the New Zealand championships in Auckland with his 209km effort.

He has raced all ultra distances from 60km to 342km, set the course record at The Great Naseby 200-mile (320km) event in 2022 with a time of 43hr 26min, and ran 342km in 51 hours at the Dead Cow Gully Backyard Masters Ultra in Nanango, Australia, last year.

Bayne runs 150km-200km every week when he is preparing for an ultra event, and also does speedwork — yes, he appreciates the irony — with Leith Harriers.

Before ultra running, Bayne represented New Zealand in rowing.

He was in the lightweight eight that finished fifth at the world championships in Milan in 1988.