Runners crack the track


EASTERN Bay athletes ran along side a top international field at the 11th Tarawera Ultramarathon on Saturday.

The annual race offered four distances which took on various courses between Kawerau and Rotorua. Whakatane’s Melissa White ran the 160-kilometre race, was the seventh female to finish and placed 45th out of the 97 runners that took on the longest distance. White crossed the line in 29 hours 13 minutes.

“I finished so I was rapt, but I would liked to have finished a few hours earlier. The body wouldn’t let me, I had a few blisters and a lost toenail.”

White, who has also run races in New Zealand as well as Europe and Australia, said it was her second time running the Tarawera race.

“The scenery and the volunteers were great. I really enjoyed the first 50km, I ran with a friend, and ran into people from the Bay that did the 50km race.”

White said she would have a break over the next few weeks and think about what is next.
Whakatane’s Maria-Catherine Roaches was 19th in the female 40-49 section of the 102km event, completing the course in 17.31.

Sam Clark placed second in the 50km event, running 4.30 – 12 minutes behind winner Gene Beveridge.

Dianne Bulled won the female 50-59 age group, beating 65 other women in crossing the finish line in 6.02.

Whakatane’s Bronwyn Rofe placed fifth. Bulled was 61st overall out of the 717 runners that took on the 50km option. Neil Spanhake was third in the male 60-69 age group.

There were a raft of Eastern Bay runners in the 20km race, Shona Stewart was seventh in the female 40-49 section in 2.15 and Vin Elliott placed sixth in the male 20-29 division in 1.55.

American ultra running superstar Jeff Browning won the 160km event in 16.18, in spite of a navigational error.

The Oregon native took a wrong turn before recovering to run down fellow American Camille Herron in the final stages of an enthralling race.

On his first visit to New Zealand, Browning was quick to acknowledge his mistake inside the first quarter of the race that saw him complete a 4.5km loop of the Green Lake before re-joining the race.

“I wasn’t paying attention at the Green lake and took the 50k course and did the whole loop around, that put me 42 minutes back from Camille. I came back to the same spot and went ‘no’. I then spent the rest of the day playing catch up,” said a slightly embarrassed champion.

Herron came home in second place overall, a clear winner of the women’s race, also smashing the women’s race record to go with her 2017 100km record victory, posting an impressive 17.20.