When Oamaru man Luke Smyth confirmed his entry into the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra, it was only natural Jacob Smyth would do the same.
They are twins, after all.
The pair completed the 316km ultra staged race, which featured seven stages over seven days from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru, crossing the finish line at Friendly Bay on Saturday.
Both competed in the supported category and had their food and bedding carried for them to the end of each stage.
While Jacob, of Edendale, made it home ahead of Luke due to the final stage’s staggered start, it was the latter who finished the faster of the two in 41hr 6min to place ninth overall.
Jacob completed the race in 48hr 27min to finish 31st overall.
Jacob said he was encouraged to line up alongside his brother after Luke won a sponsored entry to the race, but that was not the only reason he decided to take part.
“We were turning 40 at the end of the year so I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I gave Luke a call and entered the race too and it’s been fantastic doing it with him.”
Luke said the race was “a lot tougher” than he expected, but did not let that deter him.
“I thought it was going to be a run along the Alps 2 Ocean [cycle trail], but it wasn’t. There was some technical stuff like river crossings so the course was quite a bit tougher than I expected, but it was great.”
Jacob believed the most challenging aspect of the race was being mentally prepared for each stage, as well as sleep deprivation.
He said he was helped through that by the support of Luke, his family and the other competitors.
“There was a lot of camaraderie .. I think the thing I will take from this the most would be the friendships formed.”
Alps 2 Ocean Ultra organiser Mike Sandri the race had achieved its goal of offering a challenging course that pushed the athletes to their limits.
“It’s better than I ever thought it could be,” he said.
“I knew it would be good, but all of these people from all over the world are absolutely buzzing about it.
“There’s been some hard and cruel days. There is a lot of people saying it was incredibly hard out there.”
The race is scheduled to be held again in early 2019.
However, Mr Sandri said he would allow the dust to settle before he focused on that.
“We are just not going to think about that at all at the moment.
“We’re going to let things settle down and then think about our approach to the next run.”