The race that should be on every runner’s bucket list
The Tarawera Ultramarathon is a world-class event and a must-do for runners
looking to challenge themselves and experience adventure
along some of the most beautiful trails in the world.
New Zealand’s most prestigious ultramarathon
The 9th annual Tarawera Ultramarathon was held on 11 February, 2017. Runners had to complete a course of 102km, 87km or 62km that took them around four lakes, through many forests, past waterfalls and some of the most stunning scenery in the world, from Rotorua to Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
The spectacular course also led runners through places of immense cultural significance to Maori people, the indigenous people of New Zealand.
This event provides income for close to a hundred local businesses and community groups and brings in a team of over 400 volunteers on race day.
The organizers of The Tarawera Ultra describe the race as follows:
“The Tarawera Ultramarathon is an event for dreamers, adventurers, stubborn-minded achievers, creators, craft beer drinkers.
The muddy, the sweaty, the bloody, the foul-mouthed and the teary-eyed. It’s for the swashbucklers, the hackers and the rebels.”
“The Tarawera Ultra is a way you can make a dent in the universe. You’ve done something that most view as unrealistic, impossible and plain crazy. That feeling is powerful. You have a confidence and calmness about you and a stupid-ass grin spreads across your face when you think about how far you’ve run and what you’ve managed to achieve. That powerful feeling lasts a long time and goes a long way. It translates through to your relationships, work and study, looking after your own health and finding new adventures in your life. It’s not the sort of event you forget in a month, or a year — or ever.”
This is one of the most “runnable” trail ultra marathons in the world, with relaxed cut-offs (around 11:30min/km throughout), offering athletes of all abilities the opportunity to be part of the Ultra-trail World Tour.
In 2017 a total of 1400 runners participated, of which >50% were international athletes from 45 countries, including many of the world’s best trail ultra runners.
455 of the 619 102k racers managed to cross the finish line.
The Tarawera Ultra has a 102km, 87km and 62km solo distance, as well as a two or four person 87km relay.
All three races are point to point, leading to the same finish line in Kawerau.
In general, all three courses are low elevation, single tracks (trails) and wide trails through forests and narrow forestry roads. There are mainly gentle hills, short, steep hills and flat sections. There are few stairs. The major technical sections (roots, rocks and sharp hills) are the Eastern Okataina walkway and Northern Tarawera Track (roughly, Okataina to Humphries Bay aid station). This is considered a very runnable course.
Course Records 2017
Jim Walmsley set a course record over the 102K distance. The Flagstaff, Arizona based ultrarunner averaged 4:20 per kilometer, breaking the previous course record by 21 minutes in 7:23:32.
Fellow American Camille Heron won the women’s 102K in 8:56:01, breaking the course record by six minutes.
The Kiwi women have been dominant in the race in recent years. “We have not had a foreign winner of the women’s race since 2012 when Canadian, Nicola Gildersleeve won the title,” event organizer Paul Charter said.
Male winners 2017
1st place Jim Walmsley (7:23:32)
2nd place Jonas Buud
Female winners 2017
1st place Camille Herron (8:56)
2nd place Magda Boulet
3rd Cecilia Flori (Italy)
Participating Elite athletes in 2017:
David Byrne — AU
Scotty Hawker — AU
Gediminas Grinius — LT
Jonas Buud — SE (2016 Tarawera Ultra winner)
Jim Walmlsey — US
Kyle Weise — AU
Andrius Ramonas — LT/ NZ
Michael Wardian — US
Yassine Diboun — US
Matt Flaherty — US
Sam Mccutcheon — NZ, Wellington
Craig Kirkwood — NZ, Tauranga
Romain Mirosa — NZ, Dunedin
Daryl Harding — NZ, Oakura
Andy Good — NZ, Palmerston North
Kristian Day-Muir — NZ, Napier
Camille Herron — US
Sally McRae — US
Magdalena Boulet — US
Fernanda Maciel — BR
Kellie Emmerson — AU
Claire Baudis — RE
Sophie Grant — UK
Fiona Hayvice — NZ, Wellington (2016 Tarawera Ultra winner)
Sue Crowley — NZ, Rotorua
Cecelia Flori — NZ, Hamilton
Dawn Tuffery — NZ, Hamilton
Only the Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km distance is a qualifying race for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, held in California (USA) each year.
The Tarawera Ultramarathon (62, 87km and 102km) counts for points towards qualifying for UTMB events, held in August each year.
Resources / further reading
Event Organizer: Paul Charteris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Race Director: Tim Day, email@example.com
Program Manager, Marketing Coordinator: Sarah Rosenbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual tour of the 102 km race course
Race map and elevation profile
Tarawera Ultramarathon news 2017
Race results 2017
Race (p)reviews 2017
Jim Walmsley’s jaw-dropping Strava data from his latest ultra record
Ultra-Trail World Tour
Originally published at Running Your Life.