Wanaka animal control officer Tanya Bottomley says she is just a “scaredy cat” who wants to prove it is possible for women to do anything without fear.
Ultra-runner Ms Bottomley is preparing for the biggest adventure of her lifetime in February, when she will run, paddle and cycle more than 500km along the 45th parallel from Caswell Sound to Oamaru.
The route would make most Coast to Coast stalwarts blanch, and Ms Bottomley confessed she too would have moments when she would wonder what on earth she was doing.
When she was younger, Ms Bottomley was an aggressive roller blader and would throw herself down halfpipes in pursuit of adrenaline, but during an abusive relationship she lost her confidence.
Sport had helped her recover and she used her adventures to raise awareness of domestic violence issues.
“This is not a fundraiser, this time. But this is still about empowering and inspiring women. women doing this kind of trip. I am also a self-professed scaredy cat but I want to show that you can still do these things without fear.”
Ms Bottomley and her partner Ben Wallbank moved to Wanaka from Nelson over a year ago, to spend more time in the mountains.
Last December, she ran up and down Roys Peak eight times in 24 hours to raise funds and awareness for national domestic violence charity, Shine.
Her 45th parallel challenge covers about 298km, as the crow flies, but Ms Bottomley is not taking a direct route.
She and Mr Wallbank did an aerial reconnaissance of the route last week and have chosen a remote rock just at the western-most tip of an island in Caswell Sound to begin the journey from.
Mr Wallbank, a professional videographer, would be documenting Ms Bottomley’s experience.
She had chosen to test her abilities in Fiordland after pulling out of an ultra-marathon event earlier this year because of injury.
“I was supposed to run a 200 mile event at Naseby in August – that’s 320km – and was training for that over winter. One month out, I found I had stress fractures in both shins. That was kind of a moment when you think, what are you doing? Where do you want to go now? We have a South Island map on the wall. I was looking at it and thinking, where do I want to forge my own path?”
Ms Bottomley would be taking a Track Me device developed in New Zealand, which provided two communication channels through satellite links.
“Once we get out there, we will be on our own until we get to Glaisnock Sound [of Lake Te Anau], where we will meet our support boat. Then I will paddle the North fiord across Te Anau, then keep running over the mountains until we get to the Whakatipu.
“I will then paddle to Wye Creek, then run to Cromwell, then bike the Dunstan Range and rail trail to Kyeburn. Then I will run over the Kakanui Mountains and come out down to Oamaru.
“I will finish on my bike or foot, depending on time and how I am feeling.”
Ms Bottomley has set aside all of February to complete the adventure and is hoping for a good weather window.
“I have never done anything of this scale before. I have done shorter, multi-day trips but this is definitely the longest I will have done.”
You can follow Ms Bottomley’s adventures on her website, runliketanya.com