TE ARAROA TRAIL
INTERVIEW available from the press conference HERE
So, Jez Bragg or should we call him ‘Frodo’ is heading off on an epic journey that I am pretty sure we would all love to embark on… 3000+km in New Zealand on the TE ARAROA TRAIL starting at the top of North Island and heading all the way down to the bottom of the South Island. Epic.
He leaves the UK in early December and starts on the trail on the 12th. He has a crew of two and in the new year when he reaches the south, Jez will be joined by his The North Face team mate, Mike Wolfe.
But this is no ordinary journey, not only will Jez be running and walklng from top to bottom of New Zealand, he will also be kayaking 100+km to cross all sections of water. He plans to complete the journey in 50 days which equates to 40 miles per day.
His crew will have a mobile home for the duration of the adventure but as Jez explained, he will at times ‘fast pack’ on the route to save time and maximise daily mileage. To this end The North Face have developed some specific kit for Jez that he will be able to use. A new double skin tent, a new sleeping bag, a new ‘base’ layer, new shoes, new packs and new jackets. Some of these items will be in-store 2013 but others will only be available 2014. Before you all ask… the new lightweight race vest will be 2014! I know, nice bit of kit eh!
PRODUCTS: look HERE
- Casimir 36 Pack
- Alpine Project Jacket
- Stormy Trail Jacket
- Stormy Trail Pant
- Hypertrack Guide Shoe
- ‘Better than Naked’ Hat, SS shirt and shorts
- Capri Tight
- Mica 1 PL Tent
- Hightail 25 Sleeping Bag
- plus other equipment such as the light weight race vest
Journeys of this scale and size are what The North Face are experts in. They love the possibility to test out equipment and develop what is required by consumers before it hits the shops. Jez will have multiple kit options available whilst in New Zealand and use a variety of equipment that will suit the days of changeable weather.
I caught up with Jez at the Press Conference in central London and talked with him about the journey ahead, the preparation and what it is like getting ready for 50 days of running 40 miles a day. This audio will be available within episode 22 of Talk Ultra available for dowload on iTunes and talkultra.com on November 16th. However, you can listen to the interview with Jez HERE (this is the same audio as linked at the top of the page)
Here is a BIO on Jez Bragg:
In a sport when it’s often the older competitors who excel, Jez has stood out for the seven years he’s been running ultras as a youngster on a mission. He arrived in the sport by chance more than anything else. His school and early university days all centred round the rugby field where playing six or seven days a week embedded a high level of fitness from the start.
“I have a little theory that my inner strength – which is so important to ultra running – came directly from my upbringing; playing a lot of rugby, climbing trees, riding my bike, all sorts of physical activities, usually in a relentless fashion. It was undoubtedly the foundations for the level of endurance I have today.”
Jez picked up ultra running as a ‘natural’ progression from the marathon that he trained for as a one off charity challenge 2001. The attraction of ultra distance trail running came from a combination of a love for the outdoors, the excitement of adventure and the endurance embedded from his upbringing.
“Every long run in a new place provides a wonderful opportunity to explore. To me it is one of the greatest attractions of the sport; being able to cover long distances, non-stop, on foot, getting to the places that most can’t reach. To be solo, on foot, creates a wonderful sense of freedom in a world where day-to-day life is increasingly frantic. There are few sports that offer such a pure and unhindered way in which to explore the hills, mountains and countryside. When you run in places such as the Highlands of Scotland, the scenery inspires and gives strength to push you further. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Jez won his first trail ultra marathon in emphatic fashion and has gone on to win most others he has started since then, establishing himself as one of the world’s leading ultra distance runners, both on the trails and the road.
Jez now has his sights firmly set on the global scene, building on the success of his biggest performance to date, a win at The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in August 2010.
Home: Dorset, on the south coast of England, with the best variety of trail running I have found anywhere.
Favourite Place to Travel: The Highlands of Scotland – working my way through the Munros and exploring the wild glens where it’s truly unspoilt.
Favourite Food: A home cooked Sunday roast.
Favourite Book: I’m not much of a reader, but I do have a habit of spending hours gazing at maps and plotting routes across the most inaccessible places I can find! I have a unique ability to plan an off road loop quicker than most.
How I Relax: An early morning coastal path run followed by a swim in the sea.
Little known fact: I don’t train to a specific plan, instead I ‘listen’ to my body and run hard when I feel good, and easier when I’m not quite ‘flowing’.
Best Ever Run: The West Highland Way, Scotland, in June 2006. I have run much faster and stronger since, but for pure enjoyment it tops them all.
Where it all began: Riding my bike, climbing trees, adventures as a kid.
‘Running’ Philosophy: Enjoy and feel the transition of the seasons, explore new areas, push yourself beyond your limits, run for a true sense of freedom, drift along and day dream.
2nd place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland
1st place – The Fellsman. Course Record – 10h 06m
4th place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA
7th place – The North Face® Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco
1st place – The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
6th place – The North Face® Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 19m
1st place – UK 100km Championships, Galway, Ireland. Personal best – 6hrs 58m
1st place – Commonwealth 100km Championships, Lake District, UK
1st place – The Fellsman, Yorkshire Dales, UK
3rd place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA
3rd place – The Lakeland 100, Lake District, UK
1st place – Connemara Ultramarathon, Ireland
1st place – Devil O’ The Highlands Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 5h 22m
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 24m
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 26m
1st place – UK 100km Championships, Edinburgh, Scotland.
18th place – World 100km Championships, Netherlands.
1st place- The West Highland Way Race, Scotland. Course record – 15h 44mins
1st place – High Peak 40/ UK Trail Championships
1st place – The Long Mynd 50, Shropshire
1st place – Round Rotherham 50, Yorkshire
Here is the blog post from Jez himself:
“A solo, fastest time attempt, running the 3,054 kilometre Te Araora trail in New Zealand.”
There will be plenty more information coming out in the next couple of weeks to fill you in on the detail of the expedition but for now check out the official trail website for more information on the challenge that lies ahead for me :o)