“The quality of the field is amazing,” says Charteris, with a grin. “The 2013 Tarawera Ultra will be the most competitive long distance running event in New Zealand since the 1990 Commonwealth Games marathon.” Paul Charteris, RD
I shouldn’t say it but I guess I must, I am starting with a negative. After some serious smack down talk just months ago, Anton Krupicka has pulled out of the Tarawera race. This is not breaking news, he actually stated this on his blog a couple of weeks ago but it is sad news for the race and for Anton.
“I decided over a week ago to not make the trip down to New Zealand for the Tarawera 100K in 10 days, and despite my hip showing significant improvement I know it was the right choice. I’ve done no long runs of any type since December and don’t have any desire to travel all that way to muddle through 62 miles with poor fitness and a very likely chance of re-injuring myself”
However a race will go ahead and the missing Anton just means one less name in a stacked field. The European contingent of Francois d”Haene, Emelie Forsberg, Greg Vollet will not mix it up in the ‘main event’. Francois announced at the press conference that he stepped down to the 80km relay and would partner Emelie Forsberg. That will mean that the Francois/Emelie show will be going head-to-head against Salomon teammates Rickey Gates and Anna Frost.
The Main Event
As announced earlier in the week, the main race is now even tougher as the course has had some modifications due to fire risk. You can read the post HERE.
Ultimately, particularly in the mens race race it is the Southern Hemisphere against the USA. The USA have three top representatives toeing the line in the land of the Hobbits.
Timothy Olson, Jason Schlarb and Sage Canaday.
Without doubt, my hot tip is Sage Canaday. Sage throws some freakish speed into the mix. A 2:16 marathoner, he has recently switched to ultra distance racing and became the United States 100km trail champion. He started 2013 by running a stunning course record at Bandera 100k in 8:13:49. His marathon training background and natural speed make him a danger on any course. He may not be used to high mountains but Tarawera will suit him. You can listen to an interview with Sage Canaday on Talk Ultra episode 27.
Timothy Olson needs no introduction after his incredible run at Western States in 2012. Married life and the birth of his son saw him take a more relaxed approach to 2012 and he too started 2013 by running at Bandera but in the shorter 50km race. Although he won that race his pace was casual. It was very much a ‘getting into a new year run’. Since then he has put in the miles and has knuckled down and says he is in good shape. He is without doubt a contender for the podium but I can’t help but think his passions and motivations will be concentrated on Western States and the UTMB. It is still very early in the year for him.
In contrast, Jason Schlarb looks ready for this race. He has spent several months in the Southern Hemisphere preparing so he is going to feel relaxed and adapted. Unlike Sage and Timmy who are really only just starting a racing season, Jason is in the thick of it. This will play into his hands. He has the speed to be up a the front and with Sage and Timmy taking the limelight he may just slip under the radar and take many by surprise.
With USA contingent covered we now look at the Southern Hemisphere.
Vajin Armstrong, Brendan Davies, Mick Donges and Dave Eadie.
My tip here would be Brendan Davies. Brendan really is super focused on this event. Like Sage he brings a real speed element to the race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two battling at the front for much of the day. I interviewed Brendan for episode 23 Talk Ultra and you can listen to that HERE. Brendan has recently run a 3:16 50k at Stromlo and he is a top 100k runner.
Mick Donges comes to this race with some pressure on his shoulders as last years winner. I spent time with Mick in 2012 in and around Sierre Zinal and UTMB. He is certainly a talent and he has the speed to go with it. However, pressure and the big occasion can seem to affect him. They don’t get any bigger that Tarawera this year so how will he hold up? Mick ran the famous six foot track marathon just last weekend (was that a good idea?) in 3:35.
Vajin Armstrong wants this race. I actually really think he had focused his mind on taking on Anton after the ‘smack down’ talk months ago and as such has been doing some really heavy training. He won the 2012 Kepler Challenge in 4:55:24 and like Brendan he will be pushing for the win or at least, the podium.
Finally Dave Eadie is without doubt a quality runner but I don’t think he will be in the mix for the podium. No disrespect for Dave (honestly Dave). He has done it all… just last year he was at Badwater crushing out those 135 miles in the soaring heat. He has run Western States and has been a multiple 100k champ. He will go out strong and hope he can hold on.
Who do I predict? Sage Canaday. To be honest, I think he will run hard and smash it. Lets just hope he doesn’t go off course.
I guess with Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg taking some spice out of the ladies race by running the relay we have four who will fight for the podium.
Ruby Muir, Candice Burt, Shona Stephenson and Beth Cardelli.
“The ultra-racing world is keen to see how 21-year-old Barefoot Inc sponsored, Ruby Muir from Napier will handle the distance”, says Charteris. “She’s unbeaten – including winning her first ever ultra distance run when she stormed away from the field at the 2012 60k Kepler Challenge in Te Anau.”
Beth Cardelli won the last eight events she entered in her home country. That is impressive! She was Australia’s ultra athlete of the year but having had some recent injury issues it does look like her emphasis will be on a good consistent run to lay a foundation for racing some of the 2013 Skyrunning calendar.
Shona Stephenson, like Cardelli had a really impressive 2012. She has recently won a 50km in Victoria but I don’t see her beating Ruby Muir.
Finally, Candice Burt placed 3rd at Hurt 100 and she also had a top 3 placing at the Tahoe Rim Trail. She most certainly has the endurance but does she have the speed. It may very well be that if Beth Cardelli really is not in perfect form that Candice can take that 3rd podium slot or maybe even the 2nd if she has a great day.
Who do I predict? Ruby Muir. She is new to the 100k distance but I think she will lead this race out and may very well ‘chick’ a few guys in the process.
Interviews are available on Talk Ultra as listed below:
- Brendan Davies episode 23 HERE
- Timothy Olson episode 12 HERE
- Anton Krupicka episode 19 HERE
- Anna Frost episode 3 and 9 HERE & HERE
- Emelie Forsberg episode 28 HERE
“It’s like organising a local bicycle race and having half of the Tour de France peloton show up for the ride,” says Charteris, as he scoped out a section of the course in Rotorua’s world-renowned Whakarewarewa Forest. “It’s humbling – and frankly, scary.”