Shaun Collins is no stranger to big challenges — but this one was up there, even by his standards.
The Laingholm resident set off on his longest ever run on Friday morning from Mt Eden - a circumnavigation of the Auckland region, which he finished back at the top of the same volcano on Sunday morning.
It took him two days and two nights of constant running to cover the entire perimeter of Greater Auckland. Collins, affectionately known in running circles as "the Running Beast", covered more than 300km by foot, and sticking to trails, parks and coastal paths as much as he could.
When the Herald caught up with him on Monday morning he was understandably weary but pretty stoked about his achievement.
Collins, who runs race event company Lactic Turkey events, is no stranger to setting himself up crazy goals.
In fact, he was meant to be on his way to India to run La Ultra, a 555km ultramarathon. Covid-19 got in the way of that plan so, instead, he decided to run "near" home.
"I wanted to challenge myself to go further than ever before."
Collins devised a plan and with the help of his family and friends came up with a map for his personal race.
He ran as far north as the Long Bay region and then as far south as Drury.
It all started with a golden sunrise from the top of Mt Eden on Friday morning - but by the time the evening came around, the rain had well and truly settled in.
"Friday night was a shocker," Collins says.
The bad weather and a niggling Achilles pain could have put an end to his challenge but he was far too determined to quit so kept pressing on.
"I had trouble with my Achilles pretty early on, around the 30km mark, but it started hurting the whole time from about 100km onwards. I tried different things like swapping shoes more regularly and applying different gels. Then on the last 20km the adrenaline took over" and the pain disappeared.
Collins, who normally sticks to trail adventures and has famously run the Hillary Trail three times in a row (a "trillary"), says it was an interesting challenge to run the perimeter of the big little city (which, it turns out, is really not little at all).
He came up with the idea last year, during another crazy challenge: when he ran all of Auckland's 57 volcanoes.
"It was interesting to run through neighbourhoods and sneak in between people's houses as people are going about their evenings," he said. "I quite like running at night but definitely got some strange looks from people who saw me running past."
He was also surprised by how many people seemed to know about what he was doing.
"It was amazing how many people knew about it and yelled out encouraging words as I went past.
"The last 10km along Tamaki Drive were amazing, lots of people cheering and lots of waving."
Collins had different running mates keeping him company along the way joining at different sections of the course.
During the day, his wife Madeleine Collins and their three daughters were his crew. "They were amazing, they met me every one or two hours along the way," he said.
At night, his friend Shaun Nicholson took over crewing duties and made sure Collins was safe.
He fuelled himself with whole foods, including different nut mixes and nut butters on wraps as well as spinach leaves and mandarins. A highlight was a late night Burger Fuel, which sounds like something normal to do on a Friday night out, except his version was consumed "on the side of the road, in the pissing rain".
Collins, who co-organises the Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra - New Zealand's only "Last Person Standing" running race - is aiming to compete at his own event next month and become the last person standing.
"I feel pretty ready for it now - hopefully not too ready," he says. A long run such as this one less than a month before an event like that is a risky move but, for the Running Beast, this was no training run.
"This challenge was a goal in itself," he said.
When the pain was at its worst over the weekend, he thought he'd be okay with the idea of not doing ReLaps next month. This Auckland circumnavigation involved way too many people that he did not want to let down.
It wasn't always easy but he kept in mind all the time he had sacrificed, away from family, to prepare for this.
"It did take a lot of grit and determination," he admits. Just over 48 hours after he'd started, he powered up Mt Eden towards the summit where it'd all began, two days earlier. A crowd awaited at the top and cheered as he touched the trig.
He celebrated with another trip to Burger Fuel and a Hallertau "09" beer - fitting as the beer is a tribute to Auckland, the same city he'd just seen like no one else has seen before.