Richard Bowles is midway through his Te Araroa Trail run

Richard Bowles is midway through his Te Araroa Trail run

Hot on the heels of news of ultrarunner Jez Bragg’s upcoming attempt to run the length of New Zealand on a tough trail comes a report that a former Brit is already half-way along the route in his attempt.

Leicester-born expat Richard Bowles has completed about 1,600km of the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand after setting off on 13 October.

Like Bragg, he aims to run the trail, which runs for 3,054km, from Cape Reinga on the North Island to Bluff at the tip of the South Island.

If all goes to plan, the Australian resident will arrive on 15 December.

Despite being knee-deep mud and overgrown trails, the runner has fallen in love with the beauty of New Zealand. He said: “It’s absolutely stunning; every day is another bit of paradise.”

Mr Bowles is raising funds and awareness for Project Crimson, a conservation organisation that has made progress re-establishing pohutukawa and rata nationwide by planting trees, coordinating and supporting a wide range of maintenance activities, scientific research, possum control programmes and public education.

One of Project Crimsons projects is Living Legends, planting native flora throughout New Zealand, supported by former All Blacks.

Many people have run the length of New Zealand on relatively flat terrain and at a total distance of 2,200km. Richard Bowles will run another 50 per cent on top of this distance and on rugged, mountainous terrain.

Richard Bowles: 'The trail less travelled offers the best adventures'

Richard Bowles: 'The trail less travelled offers the best adventures'

He said: “The trail less travelled offers the best adventures, and I’m all about challenging myself on a daily basis.”

The Te Araroa typically takes hikers 100 days or more to complete. The trail offers people from all walks of life the ability to experiences some of the most magnificent aspects of New Zealand’s natural beauty and in turn educates people about the importance of conserving the natural environment.

Mr Bowles’s partner Vickie Saunders got in touch after seeing the report about Jez Bragg’s upcoming attempt on the Te Araroa Trail, supported by The North Face, in which he hopes to cover the route in 50 days.

She said: “This is an exciting time for ultra-long trail runs and my amazing boyfriend Richard Bowles is set to become the first person to run the Te Araroa Trail

Jez Bragg will begin his trail attempt next month

Jez Bragg will begin his trail attempt next month

“He set off last month and aims to finish in about 20 days’ time, about the same time that Jez Bragg is starting out.

“Rich this year became the first person to run the world’s longest marked trail, the 5,330km Bicentennial National Trail in Australia, a trail marathon a day for 5½ months.

“It’s funny that two UK lads are the first to tackle the Te Araroa.”