Tuwanek ultra long distance runner Nick Duff took a lemon of a race schedule thanks to COVID-19 and squeezed it into 9.5 hours of lemonade.
On Jan. 16 the 33-year-old professional nabbed a new fastest known time (FKT), running a 90-kilometre route from Earls Cove to the Langdale terminal in a blistering 09:29:00.
“It’s probably the fastest anyone’s gone from Egmont to Langdale through the forest by foot, that’s for sure,” Duff told Coast Reporter.
In April 2019, two Sunshine Coast runners, Luke Till and Jeff Ritchie, achieved the first FKT for a slightly longer 96-kilometre route in a time of 14:19:20.
Duff said since this was a winter run he adjusted his route to stay below the snow line, but kept his overall elevation gain in line with Till and Ritchie’s at 2,800 metres.
The opportunity came about after travel restrictions forced Duff to cancel a trip to Texas for a 100-kilometre race.
He had previously attempted the ferry-to-ferry route in 2018, but quit 30 kilometres in. It was special to run on home turf, and to have his wife support him the whole way, Duff said.
He was also grateful for 25 kilometres’ worth of pacing from fellow runner Jack Bryson. “It has been a mental struggle with motivation, just the way things have been going,” said Duff. “I was thinking about quitting a lot, which I don’t usually do. I was pretty happy to have Jack there to help me. He pulled me through some low spots, that’s for sure.”
Conditions were favourable for most of the day, though winter trails meant lots of creeks to cross, some knee-deep.
With this achievement in the books, Duff is looking ahead to May, when he hopes trail races will be possible again. In the meantime, he’ll be working on hitting a sub-15 minute 5K.
Last September, Duff completed the 178-kilometre Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) in Powell River in a fastest known time of 27:20:00.