Tarawera update

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Locals Vajin Armstrong, Brendan Davies and Mick Donges had spent a summer preparing for what was almost certainly the most high profile race to have been staged in this part of the world.

Vajin Armstrong had been doing some crazy mileage in training each week (over 200k) in the build up to the event and was most definitely fired up to take the race to the ‘Yanks’. Fast man Brendan Davies was equally fired up and on paper certainly had the potential to give Sage and Timmy a race. Mick Donges as the 2012 winner of the race had some added pressure on his shoulders but he was in shape.

Sage Canaday was coming into this race as a relative newbie. His progression from a 2:16 marathon runner into one of the best ultra runners in the world (up to 100k) is nothing short of miraculous. He showed incredible strength in 2012 with some stunning wins and he showed this form had carried over to 2013 with a great win and course record at Bandera 100k.

Timmy Olson on the other hand had most definitely kicked back after Western States and had enjoyed getting married and was relishing the birth of his son. He also started the year at Bandera but raced the 50k. Although winning the event, his time was slower than Sages’ split time for the distance. However post Bandera Timmy had knuckled down and pre Tarawewra had stated he had had some great training and was ‘in shape’.

Race Day

Fast is probably the easiest way to describe it. Brendan Davies set an early pace that almost seemed like suicide. He was either in the shape of his life and was going to teach everyone else in the race a lesson or he was going to crash and burn. Ultimately it turned out to be neither. He most certainly dominated the race over the opening 20km by gaining a 1 minute lead but had to ease back as Sage took over the race and by the 45km mark, Sage was pulling away from a chasing Brendan Davies and Vajin Armstrong  with Timmy Olson and Mick Donges following.

At 40km Sage had a 6/7 minute lead and he then seemed to turn the after burners on. He just seemed to be getting faster and faster. At half way he had a 12 minute lead and in reality we looked back into the field and had to decide who was likely to take 2nd place.

Timmy Olson took over the reins at the front of the chasers and started to move away from Vajin Armstrong. It now seemed that Brendan Davies was paying for that first 20km’s and Mick Donges now in 5th was heard saying “I am saving myself for the final 15km”.

Feedback in the latter stages of the race became sporadic due the difficulty with comms. I had been told at one point that Sage had a 20 min lead. I had just posted on Facebook that I expected Sage to finish in approximately 10 min and Bryon Powell from iRunFar tweeted that Sage was in the final 2/3km.

But then the shocker…. a following tweet saying Timmy was only 2/3 min behind. Really? Had Timmy closed that gap?

Sage went on to say after the race “yeah, I went a little too fast in the middle and it almost got me in the end!”

Sage held on and crossed the line in 8:53:30 managing to avoid a sprint finish.

Timmy really had paced himself perfectly and to be honest, if the race had been a little longer he may very well have taken the win. But hey, the finish line is where it is and he crossed it in 8:56:45. I am still not sure of what the gap between the two front men stretched too but 12 mins or 20 mins, Timmy did a great job of closing down.

Vajin Armstrong took the final slot on the podium in 9:39:45 and was followed by Brendan Davies in 9:51:50 and Mick Donges in 9:59:47.

In the ladies race pre race favourite Ruby Muir absolutely dominated a small field and led from start to finish. New to the 100km distance she showed experience beyond her years. My pre race prediction that she would be doing some ‘chicking’ while out on the course came to fruision. She crossed the line winning the ladies race in 10:30:07. Her time was fast enough for a 7th overall. Impressive.

At the time of writing updates on the remaining ladies have been sporadic but Beth Cardelli a certainly looked likely to be taking a podium slot.

Update ladies result

2nd Beth Cardelli  : 11:43:56

3rd Kelly Harrington : 14:23:56

4th Raewynne Blommerde  14:35:55

5th Kate Townsley : 15:54:13

We must remember that other races did take place, a 60km and 85km event. Notable interest for these events are the relay pairings of Francois d’Haene and Emelie Forsberg going head-to-head against Rickey Gates and Anna Frost in the 85km. Also, Salomon Team manager, Greg Vollet was racing in the 60km.

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