The Tarawera low-down from across the ditch

If you’re a runner and you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen and heard nothing but great reports from across the ditch regarding this event. No worries that Anton Krupicka was racing, we have a new kid in town and his name is Mick Donges. Last year we predicted this boy would come of age in 2012 and before its even Easter, he’s showing the big guns that he means business for the North Face 100, where he’ll be up against the likes of global running superstars, Ryan Sandes and Jez Bragg.

When Kilian came over last year, I wrote off the local talent and to be frank, although there were some great performances, the honest truth was that no-one was going to get near him. Move on nine months and the likes of Mick, Brendan Davies, Chris Wight, Julian Spence, Matt Cooper and quite a few others will be seriously toeing the line with these guys as they trek up Nellie’s Glen for a mouth-watering last 40kms over some of the best terrain in the Blue Mountains.

A big trophy and medal for a big performance

However I digress. This week it’s all about Mick ‘I’m best mates with Anton’ Donges. Running 8hrs 51mins is class. Our man on the ground was Matt Bixley, Ultra168’s newest editorial board member and also part of Team Salomon. Things didn’t quite go to plan for Matt, and an injury forced him to draw his hand early, wisely saving himself for later on in the year. Here are his thoughts of what seems like a great weekend. I know I personally can’t wait to get my sorry English arse out there next year – over to Matt who has very kindly let us take some exerts from his blog:

Vajin Armstrong (mostly Vajin) and Mick Donges ran at the front of a large group for the 1st 90 minutes. Hiroki Ishikawa (Japan), Daniel Scarberry (US running the 85k) plus Australians David Eadie, Darren McClennan and Matt Meckenstock were involved. So to were Kiwi’s Kristian Day, Dennis de Monchy, Andrew Howse and myself. Martin Lukes made a very brief appearance but succumbed to a mysterious full legged cramp within the 1st 4k. At this point he more or less withdrew and lost ~35 minutes on the lead group.

The group stayed together until the 1st relay change over at Okareka, where it splintered with some changing of shoes, others not and a smooth road section allowing different tactics. The lead women at this point were not so tightly bunched with a 13 minute spread between Nicola Gildersleeve, Amy Campbell, Vicky Plaistowe, Billie Marshall and Anna Longdill. Eventually only Bille and Anna would swap positions.

A smaller group reformed consisting of  Vajin, Mick, Hiroki, Andrew, David and Kristian. That in turn split into 3 pairs, in that order plus Daniel Scarberry running with Mick and Vajin. At Okataina there was with a 3 minute gap between the groups. Lukes having been 22 minutes down at Okareka was now 17 minutes down. Between Okataina and Tarawera Falls the race split wide open. Vajin and Mick at some point made an agreement about waiting for each other while clearing grit from their shoes.
When Mick looked up, he couldn’t see Vajin and took off to chase him. Confused and frustrated Vajin then had to chase hard and catch Mick. The gap at the 60k Falls Station was nearly 6 minutes and Hiroki had also joined Vajin. Andrew Howse was 10 back, Martin Lukes 16 and David Eadie 27. Runners were now into the forestry section of the course, often exposed and very warm by New Zealand standards, with patches in the vicinity of 30 degrees. At Titoki the gap was steady and the timing point at Awaroa showed it to be 5:23. Lukes had moved into 3rd but was not closing on Mick with the gap now 19 minutes. David Eadie had dropped to 33 minutes but and was still behind Howse and Ishikawa
Mick taking it to the bridge
Mick managed to stretch the gap to nearly 9 minutes at Fishermans where he picked up Anna Frost who paced him to the finish and a happy ending. Vajin Armstrong for the 2nd year in a row was to be the bridesmaid, 10 minutes back but a full 19 in front of Martin Lukes and a rapidly closing David Eadie another 12s adrift.
David ran the last 40 undulating, hilly kilometers in 3:14 compared to Mick Donges in 3:18. In 2011 Sam Wreford ran the section in 3:07 to Armstrongs 3:16. Hiroki came in 5th, Andrew Howse in 6th, Darren McClennan and 50+ John Fitch from Canterbury rounded out the mens field.
In the Womans, pre-race red-hot favorite Nicola Gildersleeve finished 9th overall running away from the field and taking 63 minutes from the record. Amy Campbell achieved her goal and knocked 20 minutes from last years winning time to come in 2nd. Vicky Plaistowe ran hard for 3rd and closed the gap to Amy to 6 minutes after it had been 13 minutes at Awaroa.
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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

5 thoughts on “The Tarawera low-down from across the ditch

  1. A massive win for Mick, super impressive. Congrats also to Dave Eadie (does that guy ever have a bad race??).
    Anyone else wishing Stu Gibson was lining up at TNF100 to give Mick a run for first Aussie?

      1. I’m not running Dan. But will be following your website for all the coverage! Dang, I really hope Mick, Brendan etc. can beat the international guys. That would put him and the rest of the Aussie ultra scene on the map.

  2. Was a fantastic weekend and it has done a lot of good for the sport in Australasia. I strayed with Martin Lukes on Sunday night and talked though what happened to him. No Idea. Really unfortunate as it would almost certainly have made for a 3 way tussle in the last 20km.

    David Eadie showed why he was such a talented athlete back in the day. Great plan, stuck to it and incredibly disappointed not to podium.

    Mick – all class.

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