Perry Newburn is at it again. The former Whanganui and Feilding endurance runner is having one more crack at the record for running the length of New Zealand.

The current fastest known time for running from Cape Reinga to Bluff is 18 days and 9 hours. It was set by Siggy Bauer in 1975 and has never been beaten.

The 64-year-old, who recently moved to Napier, began his hopefully record-breaking journey at 4.30am on Saturday with 2113km ahead of him.

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.


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

A run this massive needs big 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.

Former Whanganui man Perry Newburn is making another attempt to break the record for running the length of New Zealand. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Former Whanganui man Perry Newburn is making another attempt to break the record for running the length of New Zealand. Photo/ Bevan Conley

The ultramarathon man is not new to 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 NZ Herald.


Newburn will have a support van following 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 km 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 - giving back to communities, the places you see, and people you meet," he says.

He is confident 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 fundraising efforts, visit his Givealittle page: Perry Runs New Zealand for Austism.