As the remnants of Lusi, a tropical cyclone, laid rain and wind upon New Zealand’s North Island and forced the shortening of the 2014 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon 100k race to 69k for safety reasons, runners seemed entirely unfazed. American Sage Canaday (post-race interview) ran away with his win for the second year in a row, and relative ultra newbie Jo Johansen (post-race interview), a Kiwi, controlled the women’s race all day.
You can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and and preview on our live-coverage page.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to Tarawera-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports.
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2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon Men’s Race
Here at Tarawera last year, American Sage Canaday made his move early and hard, running the race’s middle miles at blazing-saddles pace. By the end, his supernova force was fizzling, but he still managed to make it to the finish line quicker than everyone else. From go time this year, it was clear that Sage was racing with new tactics. When we saw him at 5k, 12k, 25k, and 29k, he seemed content to hang many seconds and, at times, a couple minutes off the lead. Then, a different Sage Canaday arrived to 31.5k, sharing the lead at the time with Mike Aish. In the next 15k, Sage put seven minutes on the rest of the field, and his lead would only grow from there to the finish, which he reached 19 minutes ahead of everyone else. The defending champ, indeed, defended, and he did so with impressive, intelligent style. This Sage Canaday guy has start to get the hang of ultramarathon racing, hasn’t he?
Surprise, surprise! China’s Yun Yan-Qiao had an unexpected-to-us superior performance among this international playing field. If you check out this guy’s race results, you’ll notice he’s run very well in previous Asian ultramarathons, winning The North Face 100k Hong Kong last year as an example. You’ll also see results like a 212th place at the 2012 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. The runner we saw today was leaps and bounds better than his previous race results. Early in the race, Yun chilled in the back half of the top 10. By about a third of the way through, he moved himself into the chase pack behind the early break, and then eventually into nearly the lead. By the 47k aid station, Yun was solidly in second, and he did nothing but make himself more secure in that position from there to the finish. Oh wow, we can’t wait to watch him race again!
The battle for third place was up for grabs almost all the way to the end. With less than 3k to run, New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong held a 50-meter lead over fellow Kiwi (but living in the U.S.) Mike Aish. There, the two were in nearly opposing situations, Vajin slowly working his way up through the field and Mike Aish slipping back from leading/sharing the lead earlier on. But Mike Aish has a set of shorter-distance wheels that the majority of men don’t: he’s a two-time Olympian in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. His 5k PR is an almost obscene 13:22:and change. But like Vajin told us in his pre-race interview, he’s got loads more ultra experience than Mike. In the end, it was ultra experience that seemingly got Vajin to the line a little quicker–49 seconds quicker–than Mike, and they finished a respective third and fourth. Jeez, we’d love to be a fly on the wall when Vajin and Mike rehash those last couple kilometers.
We’re pretty sure that Scott Hawker, a Kiwi living in Australia, stayed within the same couple positions the entire race, somewhere between fifth and seventh. Steady as he goes, as they say. This was a super improvement over his run at Tarawera last year, where his condition derailed to the point that he had to DNF. Dare we say that France’s Martin Gaffuri is becoming the master of moving up late in races? Today was no different. Martin was outside of the top 10 for a while, and today he slid himself into sixth. Mortiz Auf De Heide, a German residing in Australia, wins the award for the guy we’ve never heard of until we watched him race among the big guns today. The U.S.’s Mike Wardian took home eighth, and we know he was hungry for the podium, so we can’t help but wonder what he thinks about his day. Australia’s Matt Murphy and Brazil’s Manuel Lago filled out the rest of the men’s top 10.
2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon Men’s Results
- Sage Canaday (Hoka One One) – 5:33:38 (pre-race and post-race interview)
- Yun Yan-Qiao (The North Face) – 5:52:30
- Vajin Armstrong (Macpac) – 5:57:49 (pre-race interview)
- Mike Aish (Mizuno) – 5:58:37 (pre-race interview)
- Scott Hawker (Hoka One One) – 6:06:52
- Martin Gaffuri (New Balance) – 6:21:31
- Mortiz Auf De Heide – 6:22:21
- Mike Wardian (Hoke One One) – 6:28:46 (pre-race interview)
- Matt Murphy – 6:36:27
- Manuel Lago – 6:37:30
2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon Women’s Race
Though Australia’s Shona Stephenson was leading when we first checked in with the women’s race at about 5k in, by 12k New Zealand’s Jo Johansen had assumed the lead. Her gap in front of the next woman was never too big, but it never lapsed either. With smoothness and force, she worked her way aid station to aid station until there was no more running left to do and she was the women’s winner by more than nine minutes. If you Google Jo and her running, you find almost nothing. We’ll definitely be on the hunt for the rest of her story in the coming days, but as we understand it she’s only recently–like in the last six months–started doing endurance running of any kind. And, it sounds like she’s got but one 60k ultra under her belt. We can’t help but wonder, where did today’s confidence to run off the front come from?
The UK’s Claire Walton, by the numbers, had a silky smooth race. Eighth place at 12k, sixth place at 25k and 29k, and then–blam-o!–second place 18k later. At 47k, her margin over third place was literally just moments, but she used the remaining 22k to carve an almost five-minute lead over the next woman. Classic racing, right here.
Dawn Tuffery, of New Zealand, was pretty sneaky, at least when it came to being on our radars. She ran outside or just at the bottom of the women’s top 10 until she was suddenly in fourth at 47k. She and Claire seemed to have the same move-up strategy. At 51k, Dawn was still in fourth, but between there and the finish, she managed to squeak past then-third place Beth Cardelli to solidify her own spot on the women’s podium.
Australia’s Beth Cardelli hung onto fourth, the U.S.’s Meghan Arbogast found fifth, and Shona Stephenson, though she faded significantly from her early lead, got sixth. Fiona Hayvice, Katrin Gottschalk, Katherine Macmillan, andSandi Nypaver made up the rest of the women’s top 10.
2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon Women’s Results
- Jo Johansen – 7:02:43 (post-race interview)
- Claire Walton – 7:11:48
- Dawn Tuffery – 7:16:16
- Beth Cardelli (Salomon) – 7:18:54 (pre-race interview)
- Meghan Arbogast (SCOTT) – 7:26:24 (pre-race interview)
- Shona Stephenson (Inov-8) – 7:34:14
- Fiona Hayvice – 7:40:54
- Katrin Gottschalk – 7:44:24
- Katherine Macmillan – 7:44:33
- Lucy Batholomew (Footpro) – 8:01:12* (pre-race interview)
* We previously reported Sandi Nypaver as finishing tenth, but she reports she misses a 4-kilometer out-and-back section at the turnaround so we’ve removed her from the result pending confirmation.
2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
- iRunFar’s Facebook photo album
- Official Tarawera Ultramarathon photo gallery
- Trailer for the 2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon documentary
- Racing the Cyclone: 2014 Tarawera Ultramarathon documentary
- Sage Canaday (1st man)
- Jo Johansen (1st woman)
- Dawn Tuffery (3rd woman)
- Michael Aish (4th man)
- Beth Cardelli (4th woman)
- Meghan Arbogast (5th woman)
We owe a huge thanks to Kiwi Jim Robinson who helped make our Tarawera live coverage happen. Thanks, Jim!