Village News

Ray's running adventures

16 October 2023

Ray Urbhan with his marathon medals

A diary started in the 1950s holds a written account of every run Hibiscus Coast Village resident, Ray Urbahn has ever been on. To this day, he’s covered more than one hundred thousand kilometres (104,240km to be exact) and at the age of 93, he shows no sign of slowing down.

Starting out in his hometown of New Plymouth, the sandy shores of Orewa Beach is where you’ll find him today. With a passion for running, it’s no surprise that Ray completed 83 marathons between 1975 and 2018.

“I never thought I’d notch up as many kilometres as I have. In the early days around 5am, the routine was just to throw on my running kit, sneak out and head off. All before anyone knew I was gone”, says Ray.

He’s run the Honolulu marathon, with its eclectic atmosphere. Ray has also competed at the World Masters Games and finished the Lyndale Ironman. But the one race that kept him coming back year after year was the Rotorua marathon. The course’s steep inclines and often treacherous terrain proved a challenge that Ray relished more than once. He’s done it 35 times!

“I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of my wife Shirley along the way. Plus, the kids have always been keen to run and share the experience with me. Without my family’s encouragement, I wouldn’t have achieved my success.”

Nowadays the early morning jogs are made more enjoyable by the people he meets along the way. And after 13 years in the same neighbourhood, there’s always a familiar face.

“Orewa Beach is where I can chat with our popular Village Manager, Catherine. She’s often out walking her dogs. Or I’ll catch Emilita, our Duty Manager, who’s always striding along faster than I can even jog”.

What is it that Ray enjoys most about running? It’s pretty simple. “Probably the fact I can still do it,” he says with a grin.

Ray Urbahn with his running diary

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