Vibram Tarawera 2014 Race Summary

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Kapiti’s Jo Johannsen only started running a year ago and she’s raced just a handful of times.

But on Saturday, she blitzed some of the world’s best trail runners in the central North Island’s Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon.

Johannsen, 33, took the lead about 15km after the Rotorua Redwoods start. Showing powerful composure in difficult conditions, she steadily opened a nine-minute gap over Claire Walton (UK) and Dawn Tuffery (NZ), stopping the clock at 7hrs 2min after 69 demanding kilometres.

“I felt comfortable the whole way,” Johannsen said at the Lake Okareka finish, while pelted by heavy rain. “I was just making sure my legs were ticking over,  tick-tick-tick-tick, and keeping my back straight.”

“I didn’t know what to expect beforehand — if I could keep up with the elites. I’m so new to all this. But I must be doing something right!”

Jo Johannsen © Graeme Murray

Jo Johannsen © Graeme Murray

She reckons she’s become “obsessed” with ultra trail running the last year, packing in 30 hours a week training, starting at 4am before work. According to her running friend and crew support at the Tarawera Ultra, she also has mental toughness in spades.

“I like pushing it to the limit,” is how Johannsen expressed it.

In the face of Cyclone Lusi, the Ultramarathon had revised courses of 69 km and 55km. The field of 850 from 28 countries still experienced the Bay of Plenty’s lakes and bush clad slopes. But the forecast proved accurate and there was no question race director, Paul Charteris made the right call in revising the route.

Sage Canaday  © Graeme Murray

Sage Canaday © Graeme Murray

The men’s title was superbly defended by 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon champion, Sage Canaday of Colorado, USA — whose online blog was a key inspiration for Johannsen.

Canaday was one of a large bunch that formed over the early kilometres, alongside other contenders including Kiwi’s Michael Aish, Vajin Armstrong and Scott Hawker and Mike Wardian from the USA.

Top Coast to Coast athlete Sam Clark of Whakatane dangled out front until about the 20km mark, at which stage Canaday, Aish and Armstrong moved clear.

“After Millar road [about half way] I made my big move on a very hard mile uphill. I kept pushing. I didn’t look back,” Canaday recounted. Fifteen kilometres later, he’d established a seven-minute lead, and by the finish, that had more than doubled.

Canaday kept the effort dialled up all the way, finishing in 5hrs 33min.

“You’re always on a fine line,” he said. “It was an honour to win for a second year – I love New Zealand and this race and it was great to be back.”

Second place in the men’s race went to China’s Yun Yanqiao, who put in a sterling display of smart pacing, moving up from fourth spot over the challenging Okataina Trail, which peaks out at almost 700m.

Yanqiao has little English, but his delight was abundantly clear: “Very enjoyed! In China [there are] no trails this way,” he said, beaming. His time was 5hrs 52min.

Next home was a trio of flying kiwis, with Armstrong (5hrs 57min) besting Aish by under a minute, and Hawker another eight minutes back. As late as 3 kilometres to go, Armstrong and Aish were almost neck and neck.

“For me it’s a learning curve — I left it all out there,” said Aish, who’s just starting out on the trails after retiring from road racing four years ago. “But Sage was in a different category today.”

  • Report by: Jim Robinson ©
  • Images by: Graeme Murray ©

RESULTS

Men

  1. Sage Canaday – Hoka One One  5:33:38
  2. Yun Yan Qiao – The North Face  5:52:30
  3. Vajin Armstrong – MacPac 5:59:49
  4. Mike Aish – Mizuno 5:58:37
  5. Scott Hawker – Hoka One One 6:06:32
  6. Martin Gaffuri – New Balance 6:21:31
  7. Moritz Auf De Heidi 6:22:21
  8. Mike Wardian – Hoka One One 6:28:46
  9. Matt Murphy 6:36:27
  10. Manuel Lago 6:37:30

Ladies

  1. Jo Johansen 7:02:43
  2. Claire Walton 7:11:48
  3. Dawn Tuffery 7:16:16
  4. Beth Cardelli – Salomon 7:18:54
  5. Meghan Arbogast – Scott Running 7:26:24
  6. Shona Stephenson – inov-8  7:26:24
  7. Fiona Hayvice 7:40:54
  8. Katrin Gottschalk 7:44:33
  9. Katherine Macmillan 7:44:33
  10. Sandy Nyper – Ink n Burn 7:57:24

Tarawera 100km 2014 Race Preview

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Sage Canaday ©iancorless.com

Just two weeks after Transgrancanaria, the UTWT show continues. The stellar line up in Gran Canaria is not reflected in New Zealand as only certain races in the UTWT circuit have the relevant point coefficient that will make an outright win a possibility, so, expect to see Sandes, Olson, Chaigneau, Picas, Maciel, Canepa and other ‘top’ contenders toe the line at UTMF in Japan.

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

However, Tarawera 100k does (or should I say did) have a battle royal to look forward too… Sage Canaday (last years winner) going head-to-head with Rob Krar was going to be quite a prospect. However, just a couple of days ago, Krar took a tumble and is out. This leaves ‘the showdown’ to reappear somewhere else in the calendar at another time of the year.

For the ladies, Ruby Muir was looking to defend her title after illuminating the trails in 2013 with a stunning win and top overall placing, however, Muir has too fallen foul of the injury demons.

Who to watch out for?

Men 

Sage Canaday returns as defending champion and after a disappointing end to 2013 will without doubt be firing on all cylinders for a race win. Sage had a great first half of ‘13’ with wins and CR’s a plenty. However, maybe racing too much and some bad timed illness found him falter a little at Sierre-Zinal, UROC and he didn’t make the start at San Francisco 50. When on form, Canaday is unstoppable and without doubt he is ‘favourite’ for the 2014 race.

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Michael Wardian never stops and has already raced extensively in 2014 and won. He produced a stunning and impressive performance against top competition at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, and his recent 2nd at the 50k champs shows he has all it takes to push Canaday on the NZ trails.

Two-time Olympian and sub 2:15 marathon runner, Mike Aish may well mess things up for Wardian and Canaday. Racing on home soil, Aish must be fired up for the opportunity to compete against such quality competition. Known to go out hard, Aish has faltered in the past; his impressive blow-up at Leadville a great example. However, in 2013 he put the Leadville demons to bed with a podium place and 18:27 finish.

Brendan Davies  inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Brendan Davies inov-8 ©iancorless.com

Local talent is in abundance with Brendan Davies, Scott Hawker and Vajin Armstrong. All three have had great results recently, Armstrong raced and placed well at Tarawera in 2013, Hawker raced well at HK100 and Davies recently had top-3 at MSIG50 in Honk Kong. You can expect all of them to push the front of the field and it’s only going to take an error by Wardian or Canaday and a ‘good’ day by one of the other 3 to make the Tarawera podium look very interesting.

Yoshikazu Hara won UTMF in 2013 and that firmly places him as hot tip and a potential surprise win at Tarawera. He has a great record of results from 2013 with wins at: Tapei 24h (273.650km), River Shimanto 100km and UTMF. Word from friends in Asia say; Hara’s form is excellent… winner?   Injured and will not run

Yun Yanqiao was 5th at HK100 in 2012 and the only other result I have for him is 30th at San Fran 50km in 2009. Rumors say that Yanqiao has good form so he may well be a top-10 surprise.

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri from France placed 4th overall in the Skyrunning World Series in 2013 and his form is on the rise. In December he placed well at San Fran 50 and his recent run at The Coastal Challenge will put him in a great place for the 100km. Gaffuri will be up there, top-10 would be a great result.

Ladies

With Ruby Muir out all eyes will fall on Meghan Arbogast. She had 8-results on Ultra Signup for 2013 with 4th at Western States and 13th at TNFUTMB as highlights. Arbogast also won Ice Age Trail 50km and Way to Cool 50km, however, her recent win (Jan 11th) at Bandera 100km in 10:12:57 surely means that Tarawera will play in the hands of Arbogast.

Beth Cardelli Ice Trail Tarentaise 2013 ©iancorless.com

Beth Cardelli Ice Trail Tarentaise 2013 ©iancorless.com

Beth Cardelli had a great time in Europe in 2013 and without doubt this will have added an extra skill level to Cardelli’s armory. A win at TNF100km,  2nd at Tarawera Ultra and 4th at Lavaredo Ultra Trail certainly will mean that Arbogast won’t have her own way!

Shona Stephenson ©iancorless.com

Shona Stephenson ©iancorless.com

Shona Stephenson, like Cardelli, spent time in Europe with mixed results. However, when everything clicks into place, Stephenson can push the best in the world. Stephenson’s result at UTMF a shining example in 2013.

Tomoko Hara won River Shimanto 100km and Yatsugatakae Nobeyama 100km in 2013 and also placed 2nd at Sarom-See 100km. Without doubt, comfortable at the 100km distance, I personally think we will see a surprise from Hara and a podium place.

Finally, Sandi Nypaver from Ohio will definitely make top-10 and has the potential for top-5. In 2013, Nypaver was 2nd at Cayuga Trails 50km and 11th at Speedgoat 50km. A winner at Grindstone 100-mile in 2010 confirms that she has not only the mental but physical requirements for a solid Tarawera.

Who are your picks?

Links:

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica, 2014 – 4 weeks and counting

TCC 2014 ©iancorless.com

Four weeks today The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica will start. Celebrating ten glorious years, the 2014 edition of the race will arguably be the most competitive in the races history.

Kicking off the 2014 racing season, runners from all over the world will assemble in Quepos for an exhilarating journey along the Costa Rican coast and within the rain forests of this exciting and idilic land.

Unprecedented in the races history, an elite line up of runners will toe the line featuring:

  • Anna Frost (New Zealad) – Salomon International
  • Nick Clark (UK) – Pearl Izumi
  • Julia Bottger (Germany) – Salomon
  • Philipp Reiter Germany) – Salomon International
  • Michael Wardian (USA) – Hoka One One
  • Jo Meek (UK) – tbc

The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.

Rodrigo Carazo and Tim Holmstrom from the TCC organisation have quite a race lined up!

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In addition, Gemma Slaughter, 2013 female winner of the TCC will return to defend her title. Without doubt, Gemma will find the 2014 race very different to 2013. However, she does have experience and knowledge of what this race can bring; from a physical and mental perspective. I will be catching up with Gemma in the coming week for an interview on how she feels, how training has gone and what are her expectations for the 10th edition.

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Frosty‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’

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Wardian‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’

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Clarky‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’ 

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Reiter – ‘It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.’

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Bottger – ‘I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting’

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Meek ‘I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run, admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.’

The stage is set!

I will be reporting live ‘daily’ from the race and posting each evening a synopsis of the action with images (connections allowing).

Follow on FacebookHERE Twitter: @talkultra and of course on this website.

If you’d like to read more about The Coastal Challenge, here are my links to the 2013 (9th edition).

SUMMARY of the 2013 edition of the race – HERE

Images from the TCC – HERE

The Coastal Challenge on RUN247HERE

The Coastal Challenge on TrailRunnerHERE

The Coastal Challenge in Spanish TrailChileHERE

Daily Blog posts from the 2013 edition of the race:

HOME – Salomon Running TV S3 E02

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Anna Frost has spent the past 8 years wandering the globe competing in some of the worlds top trail races. Her win at Transvulcania in 2012 cemented her place as one of the top ultra trail runners in the world. Following that race, Anna was plagued by a string of injuries and forced out of the racing circuit. As a result, in late 2012 she decided to return to her home in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In this episode Anna reconnects with her identity and roots as she questions what running means to her.

More inspirational work from The African Attachment and Salomon Running but the star of this film is Frosty…. 

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Music:
“Make Me Fly”
By No Dancing!
Written by Henk Labuschagne
Produced by Francois de Klerk

“Wrecking Ball”
By Holley Maher

Additional Race Footage:
Transvulcania – Dream Team Television
Marathon du Mont Blanc – Mouss Productions

Te Araroa Episode 2 – Jez Bragg

After 53 days 9 hours and 3,054 km of running, Jez Bragg crosses the finish line of Te Araroa trail arriving in Bluff — lands end on the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

“I’m just so proud of that because, it was bold, and I did pull it off. And that’s cool.” Jez Bragg