The first four winners were crowned at the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB, with men’s and women’s 21km and 50km athletes setting blistering times on their way to the titles.
Course records tumbled in the TUM50, with Kiwi David Haunschmidt taking victory in the men’s race in 3:33:03, and American Allie McLaughlin securing top spot in the women’s TUM50 race in 3:43:38.
McLaughlin, who hails from Dayton, Ohio, claimed a new course record in the TUM50, surpassing Caitlin Fielder’s previous time by 10 minutes. New Zealander Fielder finished second behind McLaughlin in today’s race, also ducking under her previous course record in a time of 3:46:59. Kate Avery (GBR) rounded out the women’s TUM50 podium in 3:54:52.
“I feel great, I will say that for the first 10 minutes after finishing my legs were like so achy and painful, I thought oh no I don’t think I’m going to be able to move but it’s already getting better. I had so much fun, you can run all of the way, which in a lot of ultras there is a lot of hiking, I was watching my time, I wanted to get the record which I did so I’m happy,” said McLaughlin.
“Caitlin, who is a good friend and we’ve raced the Golden Trail Series and stuff, she’s won this race before and we went out, my style is to go out faster but I know that’s really dangerous in an ultra race because I’ve blown up before, but I wanted to run with her but I also knew that I needed to do my own thing. We were in sight for a while but I just kind of tried to go ahead and then it was just about holding on, trying to stay conservative and not blow up and the whole race I kind of cruised, I had a few songs stuck in my held but I was also clicking off the miles, at halfway I thought if I can make it there feeling good I’d be happy.”
McLaughlin was making her Tarawera Ultramarathon debut and entered the event with the goal of securing her spot on the OCC (50km) start line at UTMB Mont-Blanc in August – achieved by the top three female and male podium finishers in the 2023 TUM50.
“That was my plan to come here and secure that spot. I will say coming into the last two miles I felt good but I was like man, OCC is a lot hillier and should take about double the time, I can’t imagine being out here for another three hours, I have a lot of work to do before August but that’s what made this race really nice, it’s not going to tax you as much because you’re not on your feet for six hours,” said McLaughlin.
“It was really, really, great. I was hoping it was going to stay cloudy which it did,” she said. “The trails were so flowy, I will say that since I didn’t study the course a tonne I didn’t have the best mental idea of where we were on the island and the course, a lot of it looked the same to me, in a beautiful, beautiful, way, I did recognise a few of the lakes, I really enjoyed the Redwood Aid Station and the Aid Station before that, they had music and were really sweet. I really enjoyed the vibe for sure.”
Despite running a quick race and going under her previous course record, Caitlin Fielder had to settle for second place in 2023 after winning the TUM50 at the previous two editions of the event.
“It’s always pretty brutal, I definitely pushed myself harder this time than I think I have in previous years because of the competitive field, which is always really good,” said Fielder. “That just elevates the sport, and everyone is going faster. I kind of knew when I saw Allie coming that it would get broken, and I was happy to go under it as well.
“I went out with her for the first 15km and then thought I should tone it back a little bit, it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s race. It felt pretty good, I got a bit of cramp there at the end from going quite fast,” she said.
Like McLaughlin, Fielder plans to race in UTMB Mont-Blanc’s OCC race in August having qualified for the prestigious event today.
“I did the 100km last year and then kind of decided that I needed to cut it a bit shorter and make it more achievable with my shorter races that I do, so it’s looking like I’m going to be in Chamonix in August,” said Fielder.
Wellington-based David Haunschimdt executed a near perfect race, allowing the leaders to go out hard early before reeling them in over the second half of the 50km course through the trails of Rotorua.
Haunschimdt took the tape in a new TUM50 course record, seven minutes ahead of Piotr Babis (POL) in second and Charlie Hamilton (AUS) in third. Kiwi Jonathan Jackson finished fourth.
“It’s fantastic, I completely did not expect that so I’m absolutely over the moon,” said Haunschmidt. “I knew there were some world class runners there, I mean Jono Jackson had the record (before Michael Voss), so I let them do the work and took the first half pretty conservative and then from Blue Lake onwards I just went for it and kind of ran scared.”
Before moving to Wellington, the 33-year-old lived in Rotorua for a year and says he loved being back on familiar trails and enjoyed the huge crowd support out on course today.
“It’s amazing, I used to live here so it’s like I’m home, it’s awesome. I met so many friends running in the woods, it’s feels special, some of the best trails I’ve ever run on,” he said.
The first person to cross the finish line at the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon was New Zealand’s Mike Robinson, who won the men’s TUM21 race in 1:25:45.
Completing an all-Kiwi men’s TUM21 podium was Liam Dooley, second in 1:26:55, and Brent Kelly, third in 1:28:12.
“Absolutely rapt, so stoked, exceeded my expectations for sure. I was just hoping to get a good time and be not too far behind Liam but I’m rapt. I recently swapped heart rate monitors so I was keeping an eye on my heart rate the whole race and making sure I didn’t overdo it, keep it steady on the hills,” said Robinson.
“I was sitting about sixth for most of it and then started slowly picking them off and then I saw Liam about 30 seconds ahead at about 10km and then I slowly closed the gap, and on the last three k really upped the effort and pushed through and passed him with a couple of k to go and finished strong.”
Robinson was making his third start in the TUM21 and says he was delighted to back at the Tarawera Ultramarathon after the event’s two-year hiatus.
“Amazing, it’s always one to look forward to throughout the year, I’ll be looking forward to supporting the Milers later, I’ve got a mate Doug Moore, I’ll be cheering him on, not so fun for them but better for us, we get to see them a few more times,” he said.
The Gisborne-based athlete’s win was even more impressive given he’s been battling sleep deprivation the last few days after welcoming a new baby to his family.
“So amazing, I’ve been battling trying to get enough sleep and enough time for training and just trying to perform on the day has been tough, didn’t get to sleep two nights ago, got about three or four hours last night, I’m stoked for the win, it’s amazing.”
Sydney-based Kiwi Juliette Soule took the win in the women’s TUM21 in 1:40:59, with fellow Kiwi Sabrina Grogan second in 1:42:12 and Canada’s Neasa Coll third in 1:46:16.
“I feel pretty tired, pretty cooked, but it was a great run. I think we definitely all went out a bit hard, after the first kilometre I glanced down at my watch and we were running 3:45 pace which is really not sustainable, it definitely caught up with me in the last five k’s. I was sort of hanging on but I talked to some of the other ladies and I think we were all in the same boat, but we all made it,” said Soule.
The 24-year-old was making her Tarawera Ultramarathon debut and says she loved the experience and hopes to use it as a stepping-stone to longer distances later in the year.
“It’s amazing, this is definitely the biggest race I’ve done so far, the atmosphere is fantastic. I’m planning on doing UTA100 in May which will be my second attempt at the 100km distance, I’m looking to do a 50km between now and then but haven’t settled on which one to do yet, that’s the plan,” she said.
For more information on the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB visit: https://www.taraweraultra.co.nz
2023 TUM50 RESULTS
- David Haunschmidt (Wellington, NZL) – 3:33:03
- Piotr Babis (POL) – 3:40:02
- Charles Hamilton (AUS) – 3:40:47
- Allie McLaughlin (USA) – 3:43:38
- Caitlin Fielder (Nelson, NZL) – 3:46:59
- Kate Avery (GBR) – 3:54:52
2023 TUM21 RESULTS
- Mike Robinson (Gisborne, NZL) – 1:25:45
- Liam Dooley (Whakatane, NZL) – 1:26:55
- Brent Kelly (Auckland, NZL) – 1:28:12
- Juliette Soule (Sydney | NZL) – 1:40:59
- Sabrina Grogan (Christchuch, NZL) – 1:42:12
- Neasa Coll (CAN) – 1:46:16
Header image: David Haunschmidt (NZL) took the tape in the men’s TUM50 at the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB. Credit: Sportograf