Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tarawera Ultra.

Well I had one of those days that no one looks forward too….
I was really excited about getting to the start line of the Tarawera 100km Ultra and if you’ve read any of these posts, you’d know I was hoping to put myself in the mix. Sadly my race plan didn't go quite as I had envisioned it to.
Because New Zealand was starting to feel the effects of cyclone Lusi, the country was on lock down and the race got cut back to around 72km ( or about 45 miles). What I didn’t know was that the last out-and-back part (a distance of around 24 miles) was the hardest part of the whole course.
The race started and for what ever reason I didn’t feel great, but things can get better right?…. They didn’t. The pace was relaxed and there was a lot of talking over those first few hours. My plan was to wait until mile 25-26 and if I had anything in the tank, I would make my move then. As it turned out Sage Canaday (the race favorite and last years winner) made his move at around mile 18. Now I had guessed that he would - that’s the way he races. He puts the hammer down in the early part of the race and makes the rest of the field have to work to catch him. He wins a lot of races that way.  I was just hoping that he would wait to make his move until about halfway. When he did, I’d like to say “I let him go” but the truth is I was in no position to really do anything about it. I was trying to not get to carried away, but still keep him in sight. For me, that lasted about 10 minutes.
That’s when I started to have a real bad patch. The kind of bad patch that you hope you get hit by lighting, or you get hit by a car. Just something, so you can stop and put an end to your misery.  The “patch” lasted 20 miles and as much as I wanted to stop- I just couldn’t because not finishing hurts more then the bad patches do.
I did end up coming out of it and started to feel somewhat “half normal” again. By that time I had lost a lot of ground and was down to 4th place, 2+ minutes behind 3rd. I was able to work hard over those last 7 miles and did pull in a lot of ground. With about 800m to go I was within 10sec, but it wasn’t meant to be. My legs gave in and I just watched as 3rd place run away from me (again).
In the end I got 4th. I think around 25 minutes behind the winner (Sage Canaday). Not my best show of racing but I’ll take a few things away with me to work on for the next time.

All in all it was a good trip back home. I got a lot of training in (maybe a little too much..?) but I’m really looking forward to getting back to Colorado, seeing my wife, my dogs and getting back to elevation. You just can’t beat your own bed, your own kitchen and plus I have a pile of washing to do.


  1. Keep learning Mike. You will get it all figured out soon enough.

  2. You looked amazing when you passed me, thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Nice post mike! Love reading the real deal in your writing! Keep it up! And I have to ask... Could it be the meat pies? :-)