It’s TARAWERA time

“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.

The Men

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.

Sage Canaday, of Boulder, raises his hands in victory, after winning the 52nd running of The Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race, with an official time of 58:27, in Pinkham Notch, NH, on June 16th, 2012. 1,200 runners raced up the 7.6 mile Mo

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.

The Women

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.”

Tarawera Logo

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.”

  • Race coverage will come from ULTRA168 and iRUNFAR and I will help spread what they provide via Talk Ultra
  • Race website HERE
  • Results will be available HERE

Tarawera Ultramarathon

Tarawera trails set for world-class endurance test on March 16 2013

Tarawera Logo

It’s a ridiculously long-distance running race on some of the most beautiful trails in New Zealand’s North Island.

The 100 kilometre Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon will be run on the magnificent bush tracks and forestry roads from Rotorua to Kawerau on Saturday March 16.

One of the world’s toughest endurance running races, it’s the brainchild of Paul Charteris. The Rotorua event organiser launched ‘the Tarawera’ 5 years ago and for many of the world’s best off-road distance runners, it has quickly become a ‘must-do’.

“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.”

It’s a bold claim.
“The race sold out months ago and the 430-strong field is stacked with the world’s best,” says Charteris to back this up. “The winners of nearly every major international ultra marathon race will be on the start-line.”

A lot of top Kiwi runners will also be in the field, defending local honour.

“The ultra-racing world is keen to see how 21-year-old Barefoot Inc sponsored, Ruby Muir from Napier will handle the distance”, continues 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.”

Muir is expected to receive stiff competition from Dunedin’s Anna Frost, widely regarded as the top female trail runner in the world last year. Frost’s Salomon Racing teammates, Emelie Forsberg from Sweden and Candice Burt from the United States will also be on the start line, along with Australia’s Beth Cardelli.

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

Cardelli won the last eight events she entered in her home country.

The top of the men’s field is a fleet-footed freight train of long-distance talent.

Mick Donges from Katoomba Australia is back to defend his 2012 Tarawera title against Christchurch’s Vajin Armstrong. The Kiwi finished second over the 100km distance the past two years and is keen to go one better.

Colorado-based runner Anton Krupicka, who ran a relay leg at Tarawera last year, has already fired a warning shot, posting online that he’s coming back to New Zealand for the win.

“This year, I’m looking forward to the technical trail between Humphries Bay and Tarawera Falls most of all,” says Krupicka. “The whole section from Okataina Lodge to the Falls will definitely be a highlight of the day, especially cruising at race pace.”

Copyright Ian Corless

Copyright Ian Corless

UPDATE* on Anton Krupicka posted on his blog site:

“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”

Other top runners to watch will be Brendan Davies, Australia’s ultra runner of the year and Timothy Olson, Jason Schlarb, Rickey Gates and Sage Canaday from the United States. France’s Francios D’haene and Greg Vollet lead the European contingent.

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Interviews are available on Talk Ultra as listed below:

  • Brendan Davies episode 23
  • Timothy Olson episode 12
  • Anton Krupicka episode 19
  • Anna Frost episode 3 and 9
  • Emelie Forsberg episode 28 (future show)

Olson and D’haene won the two biggest races in the world during 2012. Olson won the Western States 100-mile endurance run in California in record time and
D’haene won the coveted Ultra Trail Mont Blanc title in his home country, with over 2000 runners in the field.

Canaday 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 just last week. You can listen to an interview with Sage Canaday on Talk Ultra episode 27.

For Race Director, Charteris, it’s been a dizzying few weeks.

“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.”

Rotorua is renowned for hosting a number of international sporting events.

In 2006 the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championship were in Rotorua and the Single Speed World Champs were held in the Whakarewarewa Forest in 2010.

On race day, running shoes will replace wheels on many of the same trails.
“A beautiful environment and superb athletes – it really is a recipe for a fabulous day of racing,” enthuses Charteris.

“And with this sort of fierce competition, there will be a large national and international media following for this race. It will be a big week for the region.”