Some people think Hutt Valley Harriers club member Richard McChesney is a bit mad. He likes going for long walks. Very long walks, in fact. He has New Zealand records in ultra-distance walking, including the 48 hour and 200km best times. His most recent record was set last week.
He’s planning on doing a six- day walk in France in October. That’s the big one. He will walk for 20 hours, sleep for four, and repeat six times as fast as possible. It’s a tough prescription.
“Everyone has to have a hobby,” McChesney says. “I’d do a nine hour walk every weekend if I had time.”
In a shorter race last year, from Birmingham to London, he had two bouts of diarrhea and needed frequent toilet stops.
“There were lots of bushes,” he explained.
McChesney, 47, who now lives in London, is up for it. He is sponsored by Fitbit. Last week in Holland he broke a New Zealand record for the 100-mile walk, on a 2.5 mile circuit, and then was on the phone to Athletics Wellington.
He used to run. He won the 1995 Wellington marathon, but these days it hurts to run.
“I can’t run 100m without pain – but I can walk 100km without a problem,” he says.
McChesney calls himself a centurion – someone who has walked 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Amazingly, at least 9 nine New Zealanders are centurions, and he’s the fastest.
In Holland, McChesney needed to go under 21 hours for 100 miles and more than 182.648 kms in 24 hours to break two New Zealand records.
“I became possessed with the thought of getting under 21 hours, and basically spent nine hours from midnight to 9am pushing my body like it had never been pushed before,” he said.
“It was physically and mentally exhausting and I was in immense mental pain - pain that was made bearable by the knowledge that I achieved what I set out to do.”
He clocked 20 hours 58 minutes and 27 seconds for 100 miles - without stopping at all. He was placed seventh.
“I had finally broken the 100 mile record which was something I had targeted since first starting race walking in 2012,” he said.
However he had 22 further kilometres to walk to get the 24-hour record. With three minutes to go, he found out that he would have to complete his final lap inside the 24 hours to get the record.
He completed his lap and walked further than the NZ record – but as his time was 24 hours and 5 minutes he missed out on the record – but he won that 24-hour race. Had they stopped the clock at 24 hours, he would have also got the record.
“At 24 hours I had covered a total distance of 182.950 metres beating the New Zealand record by 302 metres,” he said.
“I thought I was going to get the record, but I was 52m short as my “official’ time was taken when I completed my penultimate lap 23 hours and 57 minutes in to the race. I`ll just have to do it again.”
He said he has a 145 mile event coming up – a repeat of the Birmingham to London race he did last year.
“Then I have a few months off until two 100+ mile races in August and then the 6 day race in October.