The current fastest known time (FKT) for running the length of New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, is 18 days and 9 hours. It was set by Siggy Bauer back in 1975 and has never been beaten.

Perry Newburn, a 64-year-old originally from Fielding, is hoping to beat that.

The Fielding man, who now lives in Napier, began his hopefully record-breaking journey at 4.30am this morning, November 3, on Cape Reinga. His aim is to run the entire length of the country, 2113km, over the next 18 days.

To break the record, Newburn will have to run almost 120km a day for 18 consecutive days. That means running about three marathons a day every day for nearly three weeks, without a single day to rest in between.

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The first question on most people's minds when they hear of his challenge is "why?".

Good question. A run this massive needs an even bigger purpose and breaking the record is only one of the reasons Newburn has chosen to take on the challenge.

Newburn is raising funds for Running on the Spectrum, a New Zealand charity set up by Jason and Shona Read, that helps children with autism.

The ultramarathon man is not new to big audacious challenges. After the Christchurch earthquake, he ran from Auckland to Christchurch to raise funds. He also holds an impressive world masters record for his run across the United States, in 51 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes.

Oh and there was also that time Newburn ran around New Zealand, about 5000km in total, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

This is not the first time he will attempt to run the length of New Zealand. Newburn tried to do it last year but "the weather pretty much derailed the run". He also had an injury that started playing up so, all in all, decided it was smarter to delay it.

"Now is the ideal time, where I'm fit and ready to give it my best effort," Newburn told the Herald.

Perry Newburn says his record-breaking attempt will be his 'last hurrah'. Photo / Facebook
Perry Newburn says his record-breaking attempt will be his 'last hurrah'. Photo / Facebook

Newburn will have a support van following him or within about 10km of him and will use it to catch some sleep when he's tired.

He hopes Kiwis will not only contribute to the fundraising efforts but also actually get out there and run alongside him for a little while. He will be posting updates on his Facebook page, to let people know when he will be where.

"When things are hurting, it is also great when people are doing a few kms with you as it takes your mind off it."

Newburn doesn't like saying never but feels like this could be his last run of this type. His Facebook page for the challenge is called "The last Hurrah - Length of NZ 2018" and he feels this may very well be his last hurrah. And if he is going to run the length of a country for the last time, "it has to be New Zealand".

"There are several aspects of these types of runs I love: the giving back to communities, the places you see, and the people you meet," he says. And in that respect, New Zealand can't be beaten.

He is confident that the current record, set 43 years ago, "is doable to beat".

"It won't be easy but I'm confident," he said.

"Before going into anything like this I always expect the unexpected. I expect the hard days, the hurt and so forth but there are always the good parts. I don't focus on the end, I break it down - sometimes to an hour."

After all, Newburn says, "It's just one foot in front of another."

To contribute to Perry Newburn's fundraising efforts, visit his givealittle page: Perry Runs New Zealand for Austism.

To follow his journey along the length of New Zealand, and maybe even join him for a run, check his Facebook page.