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Tarawera by UTMB
13th February 2023

Spine-tingling Haka ceremony welcomes home a victorious Zach Miller and Lucy Bartholomew at Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB

The 2023 UTMB® World Series, the world's leading trail running circuit, kicked off in style last weekend in Rotorua, New Zealand as part of Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB®. The countries traditional haka, a ceremonial dance of the Mãori people, created an electric atmosphere during the 14th edition of the event as Zach Miller (USA) and Lucy Bartholomew (AUS) stormed to victory over the queen course, the TUMMiler. With Miller's main aim being to qualify for the UTMB World Series Finals at UTMB Mont-Blanc, it was a successful day out for the American runner who led from the outset to finish the 165km course in a time of 14:41:41, establishing a 30-minute gap on second-placed Hajime Mamba (JPN). Nicolas Bamford of Great Britain was third across the line to round out the international podium.

26-year-old Bartholomew also led from the outset. Having chosen to race only last month when deciding to take her dad's entry, the Australian athlete was over the moon with how the day panned out. She said, “I don't think anyone fully understands what that meant to me out there. It has just been such a long time between good races, and then to do it here with the support of so many amazing people is just something that I will never forget!” Kimino Miyazaki (JPN) crossed the line in second place in the women's field, with Katie Wright (NZL) finishing third. The 102km race proved just as unforgettable with Daniel Jones (NZL) smashing the course record in an incredible time of 07:27:55, beating his training partner and pre-race favourite Hayden Hawks (USA) by over 14 minutes. Chasing down Hawks for the first 40km with a pack of strong runners, Jones then wound up the pace at Redwoods before going on to drop Hawks and lead all the way into an emotional finish line.

The Kiwi runner said, “My number one goal was to receive the haka at the finish. The atmosphere of this event drives your emotions up and gets the adrenaline going. As an international race, to have competition come from all over the world and experience this country and its culture too is so unique. Who else has that kind of start and end to the race? It is just so humbling, and Rotorua turned it on!”

American duo Hayden Hawks and Ryan Montgomery finished second and third respectively. Local fans also got to welcome another home favourite to victory as Nancy Jiang took the title in the women's race ahead of tough competition. The 2021 New Zealand Mountain Running champion was only able to shake off her competitors in the last few kilometres, finishing just four minutes ahead of Stephanie Auston (AUS) with Aroa Sio (ESP) rounding out the podium. Jiang said, “I was just telling my legs to not blow up because they were about to win Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB and it is life-changing. The women's field was stacked, probably the most competitive it has ever been, and it is so good to see everyone coming back to Rotorua. The place is buzzing!”

Alongside the elites, many runners were also taking on a new challenge and experiencing the event for the first time. After running the 102km race in 2021, New Zealand resident, Dick Breukink teamed up with Rob Hammington, who was the oldest person to ever finish the TUM102 at 75 years old in 2021, to see if they could get a group of 50 people to tackle the 50km distance as part of ‘Fifty for 50’. The group has since grown into an incredible community of supportive runners, with many running their first 50km this weekend including Eileen Rodgers (NZL) who completed the course in 12:31:29 at the age of 83 years, saying “This was my first ultramarathon, and it was amazing to share the course with my crew and complete my first 50km race!”

Another inspirational runner who took on the course this weekend was American adaptive athlete Zachary Friedley, who was born without a right leg and runs with a running blade. Driven by his love of nature, exploring landscapes, and the desire to make the sport more accessible to adaptive athletes, Friedley completed the TUM21 course, describing the experience as the “best race performance of my life and the best vibes ever. Epic.”

In the TUM50, David Haunschmidt (NZL) won the men's race, with Allie McLaughlin (USA) taking honors in the women's field. Mike Robinson and Juliette Soule both added to the winning tally for New Zealand in the TUM21, taking the men's and women's titles respectively. Full Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB results are available here.

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