Widely tipped to take out the internationally esteemed Tarawera Ultramarathon 100km event, Sweden’s Jonas Buud didn’t have it all his own way, battling it out over two thirds of the distance with Australia’s David Byrne.
Forty-one year old Buud, 100km world champion, eventually broke the bungy cord between the two just before the 60km mark and charged home to take the 2016 title at the finish line in Kawerau in a time of 08:00:53. Byrne, 35 years, finished second in 08:22:39.
Ryan Sandes from South Africa completed the podium in a time of 08:30:40. Japan’s Yoshikazu Hara finished fourth in 08:40:17, with New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong the first Kiwi home in a time of 08:46:12.
Meanwhile, Wellington’s Fiona Hayvice claimed first place in the women’s 100km event, after race favourite Ruby Muir pulled out at the 76km mark due to stomach issues. Hayvice also won the Tarawera 50km Marathon in November last year.
Muir, from Hawke’s Bay, had led the field from the outset until her withdrawal from the race.
Hayvice won the event in a time of 10:34:26. Australia’s Melissa Robertson came second in 10:56:20, with New Zealander Fiona Eagles taking third in 11.24.57.
The men’s first and second spent much of the race together, with just seconds between them at several of the key aid stations, including Lake Okataina (39.4km), Humphries Bay (49.2km) and the Tarawera Outlet (57km).
Buud finally put a gap on Byrne and never looked back.
“I felt very strong for the first 60km,” he says. “The plan was to keep a good pace in the first 60km. The next dirt road stretch really suited me so I was able to speed up and continue with that pace. The last seven to ten kilometres was pretty heavy though!”
Buud says the morning’s rain was a help in the first half of the race, but the humid conditions in the second half made for it being “a bit warm”.
Byrne says he is thrilled to have run so well in his first ever 100km event, but he was completely demoralised by Buud who “looked like he was just jogging, and then took off”.
“Then I went into consolidation mode to get to the finish. It’s a great event and I’m really happy to run so well. I’ve only ever run 60km, this was my first 100km race but I had to do it in New Zealand – it’s the best country on the planet!”
Third place Sandes says he’s happy to take the last spot on the podium.
“I’m super stoked, it’s an awesome event. I was pretty conservative in the middle stretches, but the last bit on the road was hard and I was worried that third and fourth were going to run me down. I decided to make a break in the technical section, as I knew Vajin [Armstrong] would run away from me on the flat.”
Hayvice says she couldn’t be happier to take the win.
“I’m feeling awesome, what a great day. The Tarawera Ultra is dear to my heart because its the first ultra I ever ran and it usually lays the foundation for me for the year. I have a big schedule lined up for the year but now my foundation is laid and I’m stoked.”
Hayvice says she found the first part of the race “actually quite lonely” due to the new course and its big climbs which threw the field open.
“I ran a lot of it on my own which I haven’t done in previous years. Once you know you’re in the final stages, you just tick the kilometres off. My goal was just to better my time, but the course and conditions had an impact on that time – but the win has meant I changed the goal!”
New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong finished fifth, claiming a new record for finishing in the top five placegetters for the sixth year in a row at the Tarawera Ultramarathon. Armstrong says he hadn’t intended running the event this year, after racing the Tarawera Ultra for the last five years, but once he saw the elite world champion field that was entered, he couldn’t resist.
“I wanted to run against the best runners in the world and I also felt like I had a bit more in my legs last year. The whole goal this year was to be a bit more aggressive and get myself into a position to compete with these top runners. This was by far my best performance here, even though the time was a bit slower with the slightly different course. Three or four years ago I would have won it today, but [race organiser] Paul keeps bringing better runners. The pedigree of this race is such that it now has world champion runners and I think it’s important for New Zealand runners to represent and show what we can do on the world stage.”
Due to course changes in for this year’s event, the actual course was 102.7km.
Tarawera Ultramarathon 100km Results:
- Jonas Buud (Sweden) 08:00:53
- David Byrne (Australia) 08:22:39
- Ryan Sandes (South Africa) 08:30:40
- Yoshikazu Hara (Japan) 08:40:17
- Vajin Armstrong (Christchurch, New Zealand) 08:46:12
- Fiona Hayvice (Wellington) 10:34:26
- Melissa Robertson (NSW, Australia) 10:56:20
- Fiona Eagles (Auckland) 11.24.57
Tarawera Ultramarathon 85km Results:
- Richard Coghlan (Japan) 08:40:55
- Valentin Benard (France) 08:50:58
- Lance Brew (Hamilton, NZ) 09:11:52
- Valentino Luna Hernand (Wellington, NZ) 9:34:12
- Sidney Willis (Townsville, Australia) 10:15:18
Women’s results unavailable at time of distribution.