You’d be like many others if you’d not heard of New Zealand’s Fiona Hayvice before her win at the 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon, but Fiona’s been steadily improving after starting to run seriously only two years ago. In the following interview, Fiona talks about how her race went, what her running history looks like, and where you’re likely to see her on the trails this year.
To find out how the race played out, read our Tarawera results article.
Fiona Hayvice, 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon Champ, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Fiona Hayvice after her win at the 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon. Congratulations, Fiona.
Fiona Hayvice: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: This is not your first Tarawera. How many have you been to?
Hayvice: This is my fourth and my third consecutive.
iRunFar: How have you placed the last couple of years?
Hayvice: In the cyclone year, I came in seventh in a good international field that year but obviously very wet conditions and a shortened course because of the cyclone. Then last year I came in fourth. Yeah, I was looking forward to it again this year and tried to better my performance from last year.
iRunFar: Well, you improved three spots last year, and you improved three spots this year. Perfect progression.
iRunFar: Were you going into at all expecting to compete for the win?
Hayvice: No, given the caliber of the defending title, Ruby Muir, I was not expecting to be going for the win.
iRunFar: How did you approach the race? Were you racing everyone but Ruby?
Hayvice: No, I actually approached the race racing myself. I tried this time to really focus on the fact that it’s a mental challenge and a physical side, but a personal challenge rather than thinking about the other people in the race. I found that strategy really calmed my nerves all day. I probably was quite relaxed.
iRunFar: You ran in second place most of the day and were probably quite comfortable in that?
Hayvice: I did. I was obviously quite excited to be in second place. When I heard news that I had made up quite a bit of time on Ruby coming up to the 70k mark, I was happy to hear that news and then disappointed for Ruby and for the race that she later had to drop out around 80k mark.
iRunFar: So you found out in the last 20k that…
Hayvice: Yes, it was going into the Loop of Fear that I heard.
iRunFar: You obviously were disappointed that Ruby dropped, but if you felt calm before that, did you become nervous that you were leading Tarawera?
Hayvice: Yes, a little bit, and then a little bit of adrenaline kicked in for a portion. Then I sort of contained myself because there was still about 20k to go, and I didn’t want to blow the gasket before I got to the finish line. I also tried to get a bit of information about how far my competitors were behind me.
iRunFar: There was a little bit of time.
Hayvice: Yeah, I did have a little bit of time.
iRunFar: Did that allow you to run more or less conservatively that last 20k?
Hayvice: I wouldn’t say I ran too conservatively, but I didn’t need to use all the gas in the tank or however you want to put it which was good for recovery and future races.
iRunFar: Speaking of car analogies, the tires never came off?
Hayvice: No, I definitely had some low points as you do in these races, and I had to push through, but otherwise, the body held together. I haven’t looked at my splits yet, but I think I ran quite a consistent and solid race.
iRunFar: If rumors were correct, you worked out for you a really solid shoe choice for the race?
Hayvice: I did. Yes, I’ve just… about seven months ago I was brought on board with Icebug. They were perfect for the conditions yesterday. The traction, I felt 100% confident on the trails. I didn’t slip once which was amazing because I was hearing reports of a lot of other people slipping and sliding around.
iRunFar: Which model did you wear?
Hayvice: The Zeal.
iRunFar: That’s a standard rubber outsole; it doesn’t have any carbide tips in it? Just well-lugged?
Hayvice: Very well-lugged, yes.
iRunFar: What’s your background with running or endurance sports?
Hayvice: This is my second ‘competitive’ year. Well, it was really the cyclone year of Tarawera where I came in seventh that I sort of got a bit of a hunch there that if I put my mind to it I could perhaps do well in the races. So last year, I started to put a bit more time and effort into my training and got a coach. It ended up by the end of last year that I had a couple of really good race results. I would say this is really only my second competitive year in the ultra-trail runnings.
iRunFar: When you were younger, did you compete in any sports?
iRunFar: So you’re new to sports and have a relatively late start with running?
Hayvice: Definitely, yes, yes. I just turned 40, so definitely a late start.
iRunFar: You’re a mom as well?
Hayvice: Yes, I have a four year-old boy.
iRunFar: So you stay busy outside of your running?
Hayvice: I do, indeed. There’s never a dull moment.
iRunFar: You’re still going to carve out some time for additional races this year? What are you looking forward to?
Hayvice: Yes, I am. I’ve signed up for the Ultra-Trail Australia which is coming up in May. Then I’m looking to do one of the other events on the Ultra-Trail World Tour circuit in Europe. I’m just finalizing the details on that.
iRunFar: Will it be a 100-mile distance this year?
Hayvice: Not this year. I really want to do 100 miles, but I’m going to tag that for 2017 just to give myself a little more time.
iRunFar: What did you enjoy most about your race yesterday?
Hayvice: What did I enjoy most? Actually, the thing I enjoyed most was seeing all the volunteers out there that are out there giving up their own free time and supporting us doing what we love to do and obviously all the families and support crews as well—it was just phenomenal. I sometimes can’t comprehend that there are these people out there that give up all their free time and support us.
iRunFar: Was your family out there on the course?
Hayvice: They were, yes. I had my husband and my son and also my sister were out on the course.
iRunFar: You got to celebrate with them after the race?
iRunFar: Well, congratulations on the victory, and we look forward to seeing you on the trail again.
Hayvice: Thanks, Bryon.