Yanqiao leads welcome to Tarawera Ultra
China’s Yun Yanqiao represented the Tarawera Ultramarathon ‘tribe’ at today’s official race welcome at
Rotorua’s Te Puia Marae. There couldn’t have been a better representative. On last year’s cyclone-impacted Tarawera Ultra, Yanqiao finished totally exhausted and at the same time totally delighted, after running out of water and finishing “super thirsty” — while running into an impressing second place.
This year, Yanqiao must have a very good chance of going one step higher.
“It’s a longer distance than last year. The longer distance is an advantage,” he said through his interpreter this morning. “I am running better than [at Tarawera Ultra] last year.”
Yanqiao has won several races since Tarawera Ultra 2014. He rates the best as Hong kong’s North face 100k. That was over 12 hours of effort and thousands of metres of elevation.
Other men’s names to watch include Christchurch athlete Vajin Armstrong, who commented that without last year’s men’s winner Sage Canaday “there are a whole lot ready to make their mark. There are maybe five or six guys who are all on a similar level.”
Armstrong has been second twice, and third twice, at past Tarawera Ultras. “This is a race I’d love to win. It’ll be a really interesting race the last 40km. That’s when the race will be won or lost. Armstrong recently won the 56km Two Bays trail run in Australia, which coupled as the Aussie trail running champs.
Pau Bartolo will be tackling the race for the first time. Bartolo lives in the Pyrenees near Barcelona. He is used to races that are more mountainous — last year he won Ultra Trail Barcelona, Transgrancanaria Advanced, and Grand Trail des Templiers.
Michael Wardian (US) is back. The 40-year-old broke the 50km indoor world record late last year, clocking 3hrs 6min. More recently, he ran a 2hrs 23min marathon at Houston. “I’m here to try and be in the mix [at TU],” he said tonight.
The women’s field is extremely strong, with Ruby Muir, Jo Johansen and Kovo McDonald amongst the Kiwis, and Spanish athlete Nuria Picas amongst the internationals.
“I just want to race comfortably. I do want to stick with whoever takes the lead,” says last year’s winner Johansen who is as yet untested at 100km.
“I think [100km] could be a good distance for me. I have the feeling that I’ll hit 75k, and still feel strong.”
She won’t be accompanied by a pacer for the final stretches on Saturday. “But I have started listening to music. I’ll start that around 60k — if I feel I need it.”
Article thank to Jim Robinson
IRunFar have profiles the top athletes in an article here