Hamish Carter is a busy man, the former Olympic Games gold medalist juggles roles with High Performance Sport New Zealand, an interim role as High Performance Director for Triathlon New Zealand, and being a family man.
It may then surprise some to hear that he is about to take on the 51km Ultra Run at Macpac Motatapu, an event not for the faint hearted - let alone someone who has learned to deal with arterial fibrillation!
Carter was encouraged to participate however by good friend and former XERO colleague Alistair Grigg and the two will line up on Saturday as team Coromandel Clowns.
"Alistair has had this on his bucket list for when he turns 50, I said I would do it with him. That was two years ago, and suddenly it is here. It is a unique challenge really, completely different to events I am used to and we are not even going to 'race it', we are going to enjoy it and get through it. But we have done some work to get ready and it will be a totally different experience. The country you run through is just spectacular, for all those reasons I was keen to put some time in to being ready and hopefully enjoying most of the race without blowing up!"
Carter says the team aspect of the event (team runners must stay with each other throughout the full distance) appealed to him after a career that was largely about racing on his own.
"That team racing appeals to me, that is another different aspect to the event. Doing something with someone is pretty cool to experience together, in every single way this is something I have never experienced before. When you don't know what to expect you get a little nervous, which is a familiar feeling but not one I have had for a while."
Carter admits that he will have to reign in those nerves and remember he is not competing on the ITU circuit anymore.
"Normally when you race you are in the space of trying to explode off the start line, this one you won't know until about five hours in how you are feeling, hour by hour how is your body going to react? This is quite full on, you have to carry your own water and fuel, you have to be prepared to last for 24 hours in the event of an emergency, the race has to cater for worst case scenario. The terrain is something different and you have to run it together, there will be highs and lows for each of us but that is part of the challenge. We have identified that Alistair will set the pace for the first 4 hours, because I will want to race it and likely blow up."
As he juggles his continued work with High Performance Sport New Zealand and an interim role as Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Director, Carter says he has a new appreciation for all those 'weekend warriors' out there who take on these sorts of events while balancing fulltime work, families and other commitments, while trying to get themselves as fit as they can to reach their personal goals.
"Preparing for this event has been quite hard, it has been a challenging time with triathlon and a necessary time for the sport but it has been difficult. This week I am trying to find some time to step back and recover. It has been quite stressful and that can take a toll on you.
"My appreciation for people who work and juggle family life while trying to get ready for these events has reached new heights - when you are a fulltime athlete you are prepared as you possibly can be, many people doing this will be in a variety of states of readiness. You have enormous respect for people who do these events in those circumstances, and despite how tough it is, they still love it."
Carter has few issues these days with the arterial fibrillation that showed up some five or six years ago, when he was training for a 'fun' return to triathlon.
"It is under control, it can be unpredictable, it can come and go but it hasn't been an issue. That is an unknown but I have done these long runs in training and have been fine. For me exercise is still a really good way to clear my head and relax, it gives you more energy as well. This is low level exercise from an intensity perspective, but the length of it is the challenge, it is a different energy system."
Carter has family to thank as well for their support, with Marisa also balancing an equally busy career and family focus as she takes on the 15km Miners Trail at Macpac Motatapu.
"My family has been great, Marisa is doing the Miners Trail so we will make a weekend of it. They are great though especially knowing that I head off on a training run that takes half a day. Occasionally it was like I was back to being an athlete again."
Those training runs have been vital to prepare for such an endurance event, with Carter and Griggs looking to prepare as best they can for the terrain that they will cover from Glendhu Bay in Wanaka to the finish line in Arrowtown.
"I have tried to replicate some aspects of the course. We have identified the pace we need to run and the vertical metres we need to climb. The first thing was getting used to running two hours again, then we have done about three five hour runs to get used to that time on your feet and carrying the water and food. The biggest surprise has been that it is such slow running I have picked up some injuries because the contact time with the ground is longer than I am used to. Alistair called them my 'low speed injuries'."