After spending three and a half months on New Zealand’s South Island with his family, Jason Schlarb recently headed north ahead of the 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Jason talks about his travel around the South Island, his current fitness, and who he thinks will win the men’s 100k race.
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Jason Schlarb Pre-2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
RunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jason Schlarb before the Tarawera Ultra. How are you, Jason?
Jason Schlarb: I’m doing great, Bryon. How are you?
iRF: I’m doing great. We’ve got a beautiful waterfall, met in a Maori meeting house, toured a forest, and, now, we’re out enjoying the river for the day.
Schlarb: Nice quick soak. It’s great.
iRF: You’ve been traveling in New Zealand for quite some time. How long have you been here?
Schlarb: My wife, Felix, and I got here November 8th. We’ve been bike touring basically from November through almost the end of February. Now we took a camper van and took the ferry up to the North Island and have been running and having fun up here.
iRF: So you spent the most time bike touring on the South Island?
Schlarb: Yes, 3000k in three-and-a-half months… lots of running…
iRF: Lots of running, too, of course.
Schlarb: Lots of playing in rivers like this.
iRF: Would you say your fitness is pretty good?
Schlarb: I’ve definitely done a lot of aerobic work.
iRF: You’ve got that base if not the speed, right?
Schlarb: Yes. I’ve been “running-only” for a couple of weeks.
iRF: You’ve been doing a lot of towing of your son in the chariot, maybe?
Schlarb: Actually, Maggie carries Felix the whole time.
iRF: You’re solo?
Schlarb: I carry some of the heavy stuff.
iRF: On the South Island, what have been your favorite experiences on the South Island?
Schlarb: Routeburn Track is wonderful, wonderful to run through on the southern part of the South Island. It goes through mountains, valleys, beautiful meadows—it’s absolutely beautiful. The Kepler Track was great. Mt. Cook Village with huge glaciers—New Zealand’s tallest mountain at 12,000-something was beautiful. The West Coast was amazing with forests and jungles right up to glaciers just a couple-hundred meters above sea level.
iRF: What has been the highlight being here with your family?
Schlarb: I would say everyday being able to be together, playing outside, having fun for four months in a row is pretty fun. It’s pretty awesome.
iRF: Bringing Felix around rivers like this, throwing stones and splashing…
Schlarb: Yes, and watching him learn how to swim and play in waterfalls like this… all kinds of fun stuff.
iRF: Nice. Now you’re on the North Island. What have you done up here?
Schlarb: Hot springs—tons and tons of hot springs. There’s a lot of geothermal activity. Rotorua—seeing the volcanoes surrounding the area. It’s been a fun trip so far up here. We’ve only been around the area for about a week or so. Fun.
iRF: Those hot springs should be awfully nice come Saturday night or Sunday, right?
Schlarb: Exactly. It’s great after-race activity.
iRF: Speaking of the race, it’s a great international field. Who do you think the top two or three competitors are?
Schlarb: To say the least. You know, the course has changed. It’s going to be a little more up and down. I still think that “Fast-Guy-Sage” has a really good shot of doing really, really well. That’s my top guess. Besides that, I think there are a lot of people… you know, it’s March, so it’s kind of unpredictable how people’s training has been going. I haven’t been keeping in touch with everybody. I’m not sure who will be the best; I’m not going to make a guess.
iRF: And for yourself, are you feeling fit and feeling good?
Schlarb: Yes. I’m feeling fit. I’ve gotten in a couple weeks of just running without the bike touring. I got a couple 100-mile weeks in. I’m feeling healthy. I haven’t overtrained I don’t think. I think I’ll go out there and definitely shoot to have a good performance. Then again, it’s March, so we’ll see how it goes.
iRF: Good luck out there and good talking to you!
Schlarb: Thanks, Bryon.