Jez Braff coming down the final stretch of his incredible run across the New Zealand islands (via Jez Braff)
For many, technology goes hand in hand with keeping track of their routine physical activity and overall health progress. For example, ANT+ equipped Garmin devices allow runners to keep track of their heart rate, number of steps taken, and speed to monitor and store the results of their indoor and outdoor fitness activities. In the case of Jez Bragg, an ultra-runner, technology (also in the form of a Garmin device) came to his aid a little differently on his adventure run straight across the entire length of both New Zealand islands in a matter of 53 days.
The run was fueled by Jez’ love for ultra-running - a sport which has met his enjoyment of adventure, opportunity, and physical well-being. Ultra running generally entails a journey-filled run that extensively surpasses the length of a normal marathon run; in this case, 3,054km worth of trekking over varied landscapes. But unlike any marathon running pursuit, Jez was well prepared - equipped with technology to document his way across the country and a support team to rendezvous with along the way.
Though most of his run had him in an arduously blissful state of solitude, Jez stayed connected by using his iPhone to blog and tweet pictures and messages from the hills, forests, and beaches of New Zealand: "I was constantly tweeting messages out. It was just nice and comforting to pick up messages coming in as well. I was pushing the story out [and] people were feeding back and going, 'I'm getting quite inspired by this'." Even with a relatively steady 3G connection along the way, the iPhone’s battery was not enough to keep him on track all on its own.
With a constantly changing terrain - from easy to navigate cities to disorienting repetitive forest environments, Jez stayed afoot via his Garmin Oregon. The waterproof navigation device allowed him to make sure he stayed on the right path as much as possible, though he mentions even with the technology he managed to lose his way a handful of times. His iPhone-tethered Spot device also proved extremely reliable - the personal satellite GPS communicator allows users to track their route by setting reference points, send messages to friends and family about their GPS whereabouts, and call for emergency assistance if need be.
His support team was able to log in to the Spot website and locate Jez whereabouts to properly time their meeting points along the journey. But the support team not only functioned as guidance for Jez along the way - they themselves were on a mission to document the adventure for a festival film. With DSLR cameras, camera-equipped quadrocopters, and a brief helicopter stint, beautiful imagery of Jez’ amazing feat was captured.
After 53 days and 3,045km of running, including a 24km kayak across the Cook Strait, Jez accomplished what he set out to do. A journey run filled with 10-18 hour days of continuous running left him in a tear-eyed celebration as he met with friends and family at the Stirling Point fingerpost.
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