Race Preview: 2019 Tarawera Ultra

The Tarawera Ultramarathon is back for its 11th edition. It is incredible to see how this event has grown over the years. Not only as a world-class event, but also an incredible exhibition of New Zealand culture and hospitality. 

The event takes place in Rotorua. It includes over 2,000 athletes from around the world, who will take part in the 20k, 50k, 102k and 160k races. The courses all feature a variety of terrain, attracting amazing local and international talent – and this year is no different. Given the depth of the 102k field compared to the others, the focus of the preview is largely on the 102k race.

102km Female Field

The 102k event features a variety of local and international talent. The race is likely to come down to Cecilia Flori (NZ/ITA), Devon Yanko (US), Courtney Dauwalter (US) and Amanda Basham (US).

The world really first took notice of Cecilia in 2017. She came 3rd at Tarawera, 1st at the Mozart 100k and 2nd at the Kepler Challenge. She continued this strong form throughout 2018 with 1st at the Old Ghost Ultra, 1st at Ultra Trail Australia 50k, 5th at Western States Endurance Run (WSER) and 10th at Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC).

US athlete, Devon Yanko brings not only years of experience but also a versatile running resume. This includes 3rd at WSER in 2016 and 1st at Leadville 100 in 2017. She was also 7th at Comrades last year. She most recently ran a 2.39 at the Houston Marathon, qualifying for the American Olympic Marathon trials.   

Courtney Dauwalter needs no introduction here, dominating the American ultra racing scene. But she’s also had success overseas, winning the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji last April and the Soochow 24 Hour Ultramarathon in 2017. Her 2018 season alone included wins at Sean O’Brien 100k, WSER, Squamish 50 Mile and the Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run. The longer distances seem to suit Courtney and she excels on all terrain types. But with a fast flat first section, will she keep pace with speedsters like Devon and Cecilia?

The final female podium contender is Amanda Basham, who was 2nd here last year. She knows the course and continued that solid form throughout 2018. Her other results from last year include a 1st at Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k and 4th at WSER. In 2017 she was 17th at Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB).

This is going to be a ripper of a race and there is plenty of other talent in the field that will not only pick up the slack but also cause a few surprises.

Other female contenders:

  • Stephanie Auston (AUS) – 1st 2017 Surf Coast 50k, 1st 2018 Six Foot Track Marathon, 2nd 2018 UTA 50k.
  • Fiona Hayvice (NZ) – 1st Tarawera Ultra 2016, 5th WSER 2017, 4th IAU 24h Asia and Oceania Championships 2018
  • Sally Mcrae (US) – 2nd 2016 Ultra Trail Cape Town, 11th 2017 Tarawera 102k, 1st 2018 Tarawera 160k.
  • Meghan Laws (US) – 6th 2016 WSER, 9th 2017 WSER, 10th 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
  • Jessica Carroll (AUS) – 2nd 2016 Tarawera 60k, 2nd 2018 UTA 100k
  • Kat Schuller (US) – 11th 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, 5th Waldo 100k
  • Alana Vought (AUS) -7th 2017 Surf Coast 100k, 1st 2018 Blackall 100k

102km Male Field

The male 102k, field like the female field features a variety of both local and international talent. The race looks likely to come down to one of Cody Reed, Ash Watson, Harry Jones and Charlie Ware.

Cody Reed is the only one from the four with prior experience on the course. He took 2nd place here last year in a speedy 8.36. His other 2018 results include 2nd at Bandera 100k, 13th at Transvulcania and 7th at WSER.

Ash Watson is one of the most exciting ultra prospects coming out of Australia right now. Hailing from the strong stable of marathon runners down Ballarat way, Ash has posted some very some fast times and course records. He’s had a cracking lead up, having just smashed the course record at the Two Bays 56k. Given his prep for this race, you can bet he probably didn’t quite empty the tank at Two Bays either.

In 2017 Ash was 25th at Comrades and in 2018 he was 1st at both Peaks and Trails 50k and the Surf Coast Century 100k. The latter he won in 8hrs 16 mins, breaking the course record there too. While much of the focus will be on Cody and Harry, Ash is a serious dark horse to win this one.

Harry Jones is a Welshman living in Thailand. Furthermore, he’s gone from strength to strength over the last few years with incredible results across a range of races. Aside from also having a marathon personal best of 2.31, Harry was 8th at 2017 Vibram Hong Kong 100, 2nd at 2017 Mozart 100, 3rd at 2018 UTA 100 and 8th at 2018 CCC.

The final podium contender is Charlie Ware, who in 2018 was 2nd at Sean O’Brien 100k, 1st at Zane Grey 50 Mile and 8th at WSER.

Like the women’s field there are plenty of other male runners mentioned below who will also be in the mix. Another dark horse is Reece Edwards. Very little ultra experience to date with a 1st at CBR100 Challenge 50k in 2016. However more recently he has been training the house down and a 2.16 marathon will come in pretty handy on a course like this.

Other male contenders:

  • Andrew Lee – 12th 2016 Six Foot Track, 13th 2018 Six Foot Track, multiple top 10 finishes at UTA 100.
  • Tim Freriks – 1st 2017 Transvulcania, 1st 2018 Black Canyon 100k, 13th 2018 WSER
  • Ryan Sandes – 3rd 2016 Tarawera 102k, 1st 2017 WSER, 2nd 2017 Ultra Trail Cape Town 100
  • Sange Sherpa – 18th 2018 Vibram HK 100, 6th 2018 Eiger Ultra Trail 101, 6th 2018 Ultra Trail Cape Town 100
  • Dave Byrne – 2nd 2016 Tarawera 102k, 4th 2017 Tarawera 102k, 4th 2017 UTA 100
  • Marek Causidis – 10th 2017 High Trail Vanoise, 13th 2018 Ultra Pirineu Trail 110k


Below is a quick view of leading contenders for the 100 miler.

160km Event


  • Camille Herron – 1st 2017 Tarawera 102k, 1st 2017 Comrades, 1st 2018 Bandera 100k



  • Jeff Browning – 5th 2018 WSER, 1st 2018 Hardrock 100, 3rd 2018 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile
  • Grant Guise – 8th 2017 UTA 100, 2nd 2018 Tarawera 100 Mile
  • Zac Marion – 10th 2015 Bear 100 Mile, 4th 2017 Black Canyon 60k, 2nd 2018 Black Canyon 60k


Feature Image: Ruby Muir on the way to winning the Tarawera 100km. Credit: Tarawera Ultra

Like our articles? Take a second to support Ultra168 on Patreon from as little as $1 a month!
David Longo
David is a Canberra-based ultra runner who has also lived in Hong Kong. He races regularly both on the HK and Australian ultra scene.

2 thoughts on “Race Preview: 2019 Tarawera Ultra

  1. Charlie Ware was 8th at WS100. I know the guy who was 4th 🙂 Also, if Freriks is close to fully fit he’s probably the favorite ahead of Cody given his big wins and ability. Nice write up and looks like a great race, as always.

Leave a Reply