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Mental and physical challenge . . . Curly Jacobs runs between Palmerston and Hampden on May 1. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“There is a reason the record is 44 years old.”

Ultra marathon runner Curly Jacobs (57) has been forced to abandon his attempt to break the record for fastest time to run the length of New Zealand.

Jacobs set out from Bluff on April 29 and made it to Greta Valley, near Cheviot, on May 6 before pulling out.

He had aimed to run about 130km each day to complete the 2121km journey in 17 days and break the record of 18 days 9 hours, set in 1975 by Siegfried Bauer.

Jacobs was using the venture as a way to raise money and awareness of child poverty in New Zealand.

Running up to 19 hours each day, Jacobs fell slightly behind schedule and last Saturday proved to be one hurdle too far.

“I had a good three-to-four-hour mental and physical meltdown on the side of the road,” he said.

“I was expecting to go some dark places.

“I got going again the next day, but I was too far behind.

“We crunched the numbers and I was going to have to run over three marathons a day to get the record, but my legs had just gone.”

Support crew member Dan Baldwin said Jacobs had talked to record-holder Bauer before making the decision to abandon his record attempt.

“They had a good chat and Siegfried was excellent,” Baldwin said.

“He told Curly ‘you’re like a lion. You had the courage to chase your dreams. At this time you didn’t do it, but I’m proud of you’.”

“Curly actually finished by running around the oval with 26 kids – it was quite fitting because it went in parallel with what he was doing with child poverty.”

Jacobs ran through Oamaru last Thursday, and said it was like a “reunion party” as he was joined by many he had run the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra marathon with over the past two years.

“It’s a great event, a lot of fun. They have really done a great job with it,” he said.

Jacobs has always been a keen runner, but only started ultra marathon running five or six years ago.

“I thought wow, this is a crazy sport, and now I’ve just taken it to a whole new level.”

Jacobs said his support crew – made up of his brother Wayne, friend of 25 years Sandy de la Mare and her partner Baldwin – had been “absolutely fantastic”.

Baldwin said Jacobs should be proud of his achievement of doing 15 marathons in seven days.

“The thing is, he had the courage to chase the record – he could’ve said ‘I’ll have an adventure and run two marathons a day’.

“It is just that he can’t run three at this stage.

“What it does show is that the current record-holder, Siegfried, was an absolute animal.”

Baldwin is from Australia and only met Jacobs days before they started the record attempt.

“It’s been a great way to see the South Island, albeit at 6kmh, ” he said.

“We have had seen some of the most beautiful scenery, and met so many quality people.”