This weekend sees the running of the much-anticipated Tarawera 100km (along with other distances), and RD Paul Charteris has drafted together an absolutely quality field of runners for this very well-regarded of races. Our man on the ground is Matt Bixley, who has recently joined the Ultra168 Editorial Board, and who will help us to get more NZ stories and content on Ultra168 over the course of 2012.
As part of his previews, Matt garnered the help of a few of our Aussie runners to provide some insights into the race and whom they think will take the line honours both from a male and female perspective. We’d like to thank Matt for allowing us to blatantly lift from his blog and bring it to our Australian and International readers.
Of course the big talk around this race is what Anton Krupicka will be racing. We know he’s had a tough time of it of late, so it will be interesting to see where he lines up. All we can say is that we’re really thankful that such a well-regarded global ultra-running superstar is coming along to our neck of the woods. So without further ado, here’s the low-down from Mick Donges and Dave Eadie for the mens, and top US ultra runner Nicola Gildersleeve and her thoughts on coming over to NZ.
For Australians New Zealand is highly regarded as a trail running destination. Everyone who visits returns with tales of adventure and stories of large mountain ranges, beautiful lakes, never-ending trails along pristine wilderness and views of snow-capped mountains. they say it looks just like the ‘Lord of the rings’ (the movie). Just saying you’ve been to NZ makes you instantly a more developed person and a true trail running enthusiast. I’ve wanted to come across for a l o n g time. I missed my chance with Kepler as i had a foot injury.. but now i’m fit and fighting and raring to go.
David Eadie is trying to confuse everyone by pointing the finger at me. He is the Australian Ultra runner of the year 2011. Don’t let him out of your sight for a second! I’ve never raced David but i’m really looking forward to the experience. He is a great all-rounder. Very fast but also truckloads of endurance. He should have his speed back after his 2nd place in Coast to Kosciuszko (240k) in December (whoa!!). Mike Le Roux will be red, red hot in the 60k. I also have not had a chance to race against him, or meet him yet too. He is a proper athlete, just one look at his blog humbles me to silence.
Internationals are sounding top shelf. Much speculation with Anton Krupicka. I hope he does run 100k and doesn’t have issues with his shin. Would be like a dream to run with him. When i first started ultras i read his blog like a bible and it wasn’t just because he looked like Jesus. Geez…I hope Anton doesn’t read this. I think he already thinks me a fool. I wrote to him recently to ask if he wanted to be a part of an Alliance against you hardened New Zealanders. I think i just further promoted the image of Australians as bogan-racists who don’t like to lose. I don’t know if this is against race rules to form international alliances, but If no-one knows ….
Don’t think that I haven’t noticed that there is a strong troop on New Zealanders champing at the bit. I won’t name names, but there are many of you. My feeling is one of excitement, looking forward to strategic play and eager for some enjoyable fast running and bit of to and fro-ing on the trail. Last I looked there were roughly 30 Australians on the start list across the races.
It promises to be a great race and an amazing field Paul has organised for the event. I am very excited about the trip and a great opportunity to race in such a high quality field. At last count I think I had it at 15 runners with amazing credentials who I had heard of and have the utmost respect for. It is going take a great run just to make the top 10′. But that’s racing and what we live for, the dog fight, the pressure of the day and executing your race plan.
Having recently come over to watch the Kepler Challenge and support my wife who was running, I have to say the Kiwi runners look the goods and have some impressive times and race results to their names. Throw in Anton Krupricka, a couple of Poms and our Japanese visitor it’s a fair line up. I think the x factor is Aussie Mick Donges and he is a real up and comer. Enough about the competition as it’s a super hot field and far too hard to pick a top 5 let along a top 3.
For me the race has some significance as one I have always had on the radar. Race director Paul Charteris was my pacer at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance run in 2007 (California USA). Paul was amazing help during the event. Although I didn’t run to what I felt I was capable of, having Paul there help me finish. He knew the course and was a huge help. He told me about Tarawera way back in 2007 and I made a promise to come and run it one day. So I decided to come for the 2012 event. After coming over to support my wife Kim at the 2011 Kepler Challenge I was very impressed. I realized what an awesome country NZ is and what wonderful people and scenery you have.
What is great to see is the growth in trail / ultra marathon running all around the world. In Australia for years it’s been pretty much the same faces but in recent years there has been a massive influx of runners from all walks of life and sports crossing over to ultra running. In terms of the Aussies heading over I think we will do reasonable well. My word of warning is watch out for Mick Donges, he’s the x factor in the race. If you get a chance, have a chat with Aussie Mike LeRoux. Mike is running the 60k event at Tarawera on route to completing in the US 100 Mile Grand Slam. Mike ran the fastest ever 100 mile time by an Australian (15.38) at the Glasshouse 100 Miler in September last year.
Whilst on the topic of Australian events, I do ask you consider coming across the ditch for a few of ours and I highly recommend our National 100km event on the Gold Coast in June each year or any other of out great ultra races www.aura.asn.au
I love running on technical rocky and rooty surfaces (especially downhill) so I think I will fare pretty well on NZ’s single track! The gnarlier the better! I am super pumped for the Tarawera 100 and interacting with all the other crazies who are coming out to do it. The trail running community is so awesome and it’s what keeps me coming back to race after race. I am currently travelling through NZ for the next 2 months and if anyone wants to head out for a run let me know! I will slowly be making my way down south after the race and would love to meet as many people as I can along the way.