Tarawera Ultramarathon - How to get the most from your race experience
Vajin Armstrong is a 7-time finisher of the Tarawera Ultramarathon and has finished on the podium every time. His first victory came in the 2018 62km race. Here are Vajin's top 5 tips on how to make the most of your Tarawera Ultramarathon experience.
The Tarawera Ultramarathon
is on many runners bucket list of races. It's got a beautiful course touring the lakes around Rotorua, it's the biggest ultramarathon in New Zealand, and brings in plenty of international talent each year to make the race competitive and exciting up front. Here are my 5 top tips on how to make the most of your Tarawera Ultramarathon experience.
1. Be prepared for anything. Over the last 10 years, the race has baked in 30+degree temperatures as well as being hammered with rain by tropical cyclones. So make sure you are prepared for all possible conditions, have clothing options for hot as well as wet and cool conditions. Have shoe options for dry and fast, as well as aggressive trail shoes in case the rain(and mud) returns. This is also a good reminder to get out there in train in all conditions, don't put off a run because of inclement weather as you could find yourself facing this on race day.
2. Enjoy the race week festivities, but remember why you are there. Paul and the Team at TUM put on a great show during race week with BBQ's, boat rides, athlete panels and a great expo. Enjoy the experiences on offer but make sure you take the time to do what you need to do to arrive ready to fire on race day. It's easy to get caught up in all the action and arrive physically or mentally tired on race morning. Make sure you prioritise some time to get yourself in the right space for your event.
3. Embrace the experience. The start of any ultramarathon can be an emotional place as many people have put in untold hours of training and made huge sacrifices to be there. Tarawera takes that to another level with the number of runners, the international field, and of course the famous pre-race Haka. Remind yourself of why you are there, the sacrifices you and your loved ones have made to allow you to be there, and embrace the journey to come. We take on these challenges to explore our own limits so accept and embrace the challenges we all will collectively face along the way.
4. Pace yourself wisely. Especially those running the 100km will find a large contrast in the nature of the course from the first half to the second half. The first 40km from Kawarau are fast runnable forestry roads while the section starting from Tarawera Falls becomes a narrow single track. Make sure you learn to run by feel so that you can judge your effort accordingly. Going a few minutes slower in the first half can pay huge dividends in the second half if you can run strongly all the way to the finish.
5. Join the Family and celebrate your achievement. The Tarawera Ultra Marathon family is a unique and incredibly supportive group, once you cross the finish line you will also be a member of this international family. If you can stay around and celebrate the other finishers, share your stories and wear your t-shirt with pride. If you can still walk try and make it to the prize giving to share the experience with others and celebrate this wonderful event. Now is the time to enjoy Rotorua, eat well at some of the great local restaurants and celebrate your epic achievement.