Veteran athlete hailed for record-breaking 1,800-mile run across New Zealand admits he hitched lifts
Perry Newburn, 64, says he took the decision to drive when faced with 'totally unsafe' conditions
Perry Newburn took 18 days and eight hours to travel the 1,800 miles from Cape Reinga in the north to the southern port of Bluff.
Fuelled by hash browns and chocolate milkshake, he shaved 18 minutes off the time set by Siggy Bauer in 1975 to raise more than 7,000 New Zealand dollars (£3,800) for an autism charity.
Seven days later he posted on Facebook to announce that he was not going to claim the world record “for some obvious reasons”.
“Now that I am back home and the brain has started to clear from the fog and fatigue, I have been able to think and reflect on the run,” he said.
“There were parts of the run where road/bridge conditions were totally unsafe to run and therefore I made the call to be driven through these parts – these decisions were my decisions.
“The traffic was the main culprit in these situations but there were some parts where road conditions were unsafe as well.”
Mr Newburn, who has been called “the real Forrest Gump”, said that sleep deprivation and the windy conditions in the south “were also totally unsafe” and paid tribute to his “hero” Mr Bauer.
He signed off by thanking everybody who sponsored his run and added: “Your support means the world to me. Take care all, stay well, keep exercising where possible and smile where able.”
Responses to the confession were overwhelmingly positive, with many praising his honesty and humility.
Mr Newburn, who worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor, took up running after setting himself the goal of completing a marathon before he turned 50.
He went on to achieve a series of running feats including a circumnavigation of New Zealand and a 72-hour run without sleep.
Four years ago Mr Newburn ran from New York to Los Angeles in 51 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes to claim the world masters record for veteran athletes. The current overall record stands at 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes.