Tarawera 100k

Tarawera 100k


New Zealand is a land I’ve been looking forward to visiting for quite sometime. Arriving to my first international race to see the world on my own two feet was a dream come true. After a long red eye flight, picking up my rent-a-dent car with proper dent decor and cruising to Rotorua in the left lane, it all started to feel real. I’m a runner by trade and mountains and forests are my game.

My life has become very interesting these past months; I’ve learned how to balance being both a mr mom and professional runner. I’m still learning and it seems Tristan has something new to teach me every day, but I’m very content with how life is flowing. Basically, I take care of a little one, run, eat, play more with my son, play with my wife and go to bed; repeat. I know it all sounds pretty glamorous, it is, but I also clean up poop, a lot.

I haven’t traveled much in this life yet, but I’m pretty positive I know how I like to see new lands, I like to run all over them and really far if possible. Paul the amazing RD gave me the opportunity to come and run Tarawera 100k and how could I pass that up?! Thanks so much Paul!

2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon

Photo: Lyndon Marceau

From the very start of the race, the track dwarfed by redwoods, I knew it was going to be a blast. And fast, with the line up Paul had assembled I knew we were going to take off hard and early. Through the first few aid stations I kept the leaders of Brendan, Sage, Mick and Vajin in site. We were easily doing 6 min miles/4 min km’s and I was feeling quite comfortable. We continued on with a brilliantly fun section of techy track before Blue Lake (13.7km). Roots and rocks made the narrow track tricky especially when I tried to enjoy the surrounding flora. The NZ ponga silver ferns and fern trees (Wheki) gave the run a very tropical feel. After pretty tame track for the first few km’s I was looking forward to any type of terrain to slow down the steam engine that is Sage Canady. I knew he’s an incredible athlete and I was looking forward to having him get the best out of me on this particular day.

2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon

Blue Lake. Photo: Lyndon Marceau

I kept the leaders in my sites till Okareka (19.5km) and then watched them disappear on the preceding road stretch, in route to our first long 15km section till the next aid. I was feeling the effects of a fast start and was also trying to run somewhat of a smart race. I always think I should “run smart” and they’ll come back, but I truly know in races with this caliber of runners one of them will hold on and I should try my best to stay up there.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-119

Blue Lake. Photo: Graeme Murray

A little way down the trail I could see Mick and figured the rest were not that far ahead. I passed him after a few friendly words and kept on trucking forward. There was some light climbing through this section, so I tried to push hard to catch up with the others. Half way to the next aid I popped my ankle, which was very frustrating because I was starting to feel really good. It took a few steps to put weight on it, which led to some frustrating f-bombs as I limped down the track a ways. The rest of the way to Okataina Lake aid (37km) I slowly moved on and came to terms with the ankle. I remembered to accept what was and just breath, each step the pain was somewhat dissolving and as I tweaked my approach down the trail I knew I could continue onward. The ankle did not entirely enjoy all the roots the rest of the race and as I write this days later its the only lingering soreness that remains.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-126

Early on through the forest. Photo: Graeme Murray

Even with this little hiccup, my ankle did quite fine for the rest of the day with only a few other tiny tweaks. With a bum wheel it allowed me to really zone in on the trail and make strong conscious steps the rest of the day, a blessing in disguise. Ultra running is all about adversity and how you handle it. If its not broken you can normally keep moving. Pain is the reward for living a full life. Having struggles in a race or life makes the good times that much more memorable.

2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon

Photo: Lyndon Marceau

Entering Okataina Lake aid I had word that they were 7 minutes up, damn. I remained calm and reminded myself that there was many km’s left to click off. From here we entered a supremely technical section, which was beautiful and quite fun! The track led us around the lake and had a new twist and root at every turn. I was starting to get in a groove and caught up to Brendan who said Vajin was just up the way a minute. I kept rolling with some good grunts until I reached Vajin, happy that I was creeping up a bit and still feeling strong with the fast pace.

Vajin and I made it to the next aid having a good time and chatting about fun adventures for the rest of the summer. We are both running UTMB and he plans on being over there for sometime before. Vajin is a great man and it was really nice to spend some km’s on his native track as we got to know each other.

2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon

Photo: Lyndon Marceau

I eventually passed him even though I wanted to keep enjoying a nice conversation, but I knew Sage was all business up front and figured I would try my best to run the speedster down. At the next aid Bryon Powell, who was all over the place to give you the great play by play coverage from irunfar, said he had 14 minutes on me. Knowing he was putting space between us made me keep pushing it through the turn around.

The section from Humphrey’s Bay (47.5km) to the turn around was by far the highlight of my whole trip! It was the most technical terrain I’ve ever run on and sections had me flying under logs, hopping over roots and rocks, and shimmying down crevasses of boulders. Yup, pretty awesome. After all this, the experience jumped up to a whole other level as we started to run along the Tarawera River and hear the beginning rumbles of the waterfalls. The first two waterfalls were thunderous and made me do a half a dozen look backs to take in the stunning views. Thinking I made it past the temptations of stopping to enjoy the falls I came to the BIG Momma! A stunning 100ft waterfall stopped me in my tracks and I briefly stopped to say WOW as my jaw dropped to the ground from the beauty. The sound of the falls boomed like a techno club and the vibrant colors of the river had me on a psychedelic ride back to the 60’s. The river was a bright teal and the plant life in the water was Kermit the frog green; it was incredible and most definitely eased the pain of 60km in and 15 minutes in rear of Sage.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-142

On my way back. Photo: Graeme Murray

I preceded back the way I came, hungry to eat away at the gap between Sage and I. It was nice to see everyone else on the way back, saying cheers to each runner I passed. It also gave me a chance to calculate how much time I had on the peeps behind me. Vajin was only 3-4 minutes back and I figured he would be breathing down my neck soon enough. I pushed on and dug deep hoping to catch up a little and put some space between the chasing pack and myself.

Every time I felt tired I told my self “don’t let up just move forward, no pain,” it hurt but was manageable. The good people at the aid stations, other runners, and Paul and Bryon (in their boat) encouraged me to keep trucking. The aid stations felt like they were spaced further and further apart and I ran out of gels with 12km to go before I would see my sweetie Krista at Okataina (km 85) for refuel and a good-luck kiss. I was pretty damn tired at this point of the day, but stoked to wrap this thing up.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-145

In pursuit. Photo: Graeme Murray

Reaching the aid was a big relief! I downed some coke, put in some tunes, and grabbed some gels, water and a half a bottle of sprite for the next 15k. I was ready to go despite the news that I was 20 minutes back of Sage. I had some renewed energy and finally there was one legit climb for the day. Climbing up was hard and it was hot, but I knew I was gaining and hopefully no one was catching up from behind.

This next section was mentally very difficult. The sun popped out to heat up the day and it seemed this section stretched on and on. I ran as hard as I possible could, praying Vajin wouldn’t catch me from behind. I had no clue I was gaining on Sage that much, it would have been nice to know, but didn’t really matter as that was all I had on that day.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-155

Another day, another run. After the race I was able to meet the little girl and her younger sister. So adorable! Photo: Graeme Murray

In the end I ran out of kilometers to catch Sage, he had a great race and I’m very happy I came within 3 minutes of him. It stokes the fire to keep pushing hard in training to see what’s possible and hungry for the next race. Lake Sonoma is next and there is a bunch of fast people on board and ready to fly. All of this is great prep for Tranvulcania and WS, which are approaching fast!

Moments after the race the lake was calling my name so I had to go jump in; it was cold but very refreshing! The lake was the perfect way to cool off the body and clean up from the long day out in the trails.

What a great holiday in New Zealand even though we missed our little man back in the States, who was on his own holiday with his awesome Grandparents! My wife Krista joined me for this journey where her presence was imperative to a successful race and relaxing holiday. So much fun to see her crewing for me at a few of the aids stations to get me refueled and lift my spirits. Continuing onward our journey moved us north to check out the Coromandel Peninsula with their hot water beaches and stunning views in route around the Hauraki Gulf. The beaches were beautiful and we even tried to enjoy the beach with geothermal activity bubbling from below. At low tide, you can dig your very own hot pool right next to the ocean, heat up in one and cool off in the other, very magical. Unfortunately we missed the low tied by minutes which was pretty fitting as I ended up just a few minutes short of Sage. I’m beginning to become a fan of 2nd place, lets hope there’s a 1st every now and again.

GM_Tarawera Ultra-159

Top three: Sage, myself and Vajin. Photo: Graeme Murray

Enjoying the next few days was delightful allowing my body to heal properly and spend some time with Krista. I made sure to eat lots of good whole foods and take my Natura health products of InflamAway, Power Adapt and Amino-Max to flush out the rigors of a hard race in a beautiful place. I’ve been blessed to have the body respond well and heal up quick allowing my body to adapt and strengthen so I can get after my next adventure. These journeys would not be possible without the support and love from my family, friends, you and my amazing sponsors of The North Face, Injinji toesocks (the farthest I’ve ran in them and the best my feet have ever felt) and Natura Health.

Thanks Paul for a great trip and a special thanks to all the people I met and interacted with in New Zealand, I felt right at home.

Irunfar pre-race interview

Irunfar post-race interview

Ultra-running interview by Abel of Ultra Life Team

Equipment and food used.


  • Ran in The North Face Better than naked shorts and tank.
  • Wore the new Injinji 2.0 ultra lightweight socks and a new buff to keep my hair in control for a little bit 😉 Love these so much!!!

Food- Always Organic

Day before:

  • Eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns and garlic mushrooms from a local café for lunch
  • Chicken in garlic sauce with sides of kumara (sweet potato) and other root vegetables for dinner


  • Natura: Amino-max, Botanabol, Botanical treasures, Power Adapt
  • A couple scoops of Justin’s Hazelnut butter


  • I used VFuel gels and a few drinks of coke and sprite with a couple Saltsticks every hour


  • After the race I had a BurgerFule chicken sandwich (no bun) with kumara fries and a chocolate malt shake followed by some NZ Pinot Noir wine
  • Natura Post Race: InflamAway, Amino-Max, Botanabol, Beyond-Whey, Botanical Treasures and Power Adapt

Timothy Olsen - The North Face

GM_Tarawera Ultra-156

Timothy Olsen - The North Face

Photos: Lyndon Marceau

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Tarawera 100k

  1. Shelby says:

    Loved your race report and so cool that you had some WOW moments in the midst of it all. Looks like you’re keeping family and running in balance. Enjoy the happy chaos and your recovery!

  2. Maxeen olson says:

    Great write up, wonderful pictures, and sounds like a great week. I think all the grandparents agree! Love, mom

  3. Lynette says:

    Tim, simply amazing! And the pictures are spectacular. After visiting friends in NZ whom we met back in the days when we lived in Ashland two years ago, my family will be on the south island for a year starting July-the only reason why I’d miss the SOB 😦
    I have wanted to run Tarawera for the last two years! But I also want to run Norwood 100. They are a week apart. Decisions, decisions. 😉
    Should you find yourself back in NZ in 2014 and have time to explore the south island, look us up. We’ll be in Dunedin.
    Hope to crew at States before flying out. Looking forward to cheering you on!

  4. Congrats again on the race. A couple more miles is all you needed to catch Sage. But as you said, that was all you had left. Your story captures the day.

  5. Carl says:

    just awesome!

  6. brandon mccormick-guthu says:

    That eh boy Timmers! Colorado is proud my friend 🙂

  7. Bob Loomis says:


  8. Devon says:

    You’re one inspirational character, and I’m sure it takes a lot of energy to be so. Thank you for that!

  9. I was working the Millar Rd aid station in the afternoon (3 KM’s from the finish line), you looked blimmin in fine form … tough day at the office that race was by all accounts. I must say Tim, you’ve really inspired me, I’ve been thinking long and hard about it and well, this winter …. I’m going to do it, grow a bitchin’ beard.

  10. Pingback: Daily News, Wed, Mar 27

  11. Andre Cruz says:

    Congratulations !!!!!!!
    Keep going !!!!
    Best regards from Brazil.

  12. MOGBlogger says:

    Great story! As I’m prepping for my first ultra (Pocatello 50), it’s hard to imagine doing what you do, but I find it very motivational to read about. These words of yours i posted on FB to my running buds: “Ultra running is all about adversity and how you handle it …. Having struggles in a race or life makes the good times that much more memorable.” Good thoughts, whether the ultra is a race or the ultra is one’s life.

  13. Vicki Woolley says:

    Fabulous race, and awesome report, Tim. Anticipating – and watching – you guys fly by was the highlight of my race, and kept my mind off a great deal of my own pain, haha! Thank you for your complimentary words about NZ – its wonderful to know that even those of you at the ‘sharp’ end can still enjoy the environment you race in. Come back for a running holiday – we have some monster hills and unbelievably rugged, isolated, technical trails that are a runners delight. Rest well.

  14. Great review, And much better race!,,

  15. Shelly says:

    Congratulations on a great race. Very impressive.
    I will be using your words “Having struggles in a race or life makes the good times that much more memorable” while training for my first train marathon this summer.

  16. Nachotrota says:

    I buy a pair of shoes tnf ,yes youre inspirational, come on from spain!!

  17. Hey dude, I heard in Germany (Berlin) about you.

    You are real. I did not need more than a few seconds to check that.
    I like the way how you writing – it is easy to run with you, because you putting words to my thoughts. Go ahead… You will never catch me, because I am riding the world by bike, but I promise you that I will catch you once, if I arrive in your hometown.

    Nice to see you in this amazing world of internet.

    Take care and much love to you and your family.
    Peace and out.

    (should be no advertising, but when I am writing about a bike trip through our world, at least I should let you know where you can read abou it: http://www.bike4peace.eu – from Bangladesh all the best)

  18. Frank Coyle says:

    Great write-up and very inspiring to someone just getting started in proper running, (and a fellow Mr Mom to twin boys too!)

    Also really enjoyed the nutrition post, I’d love if you shared more recipes. Trying to put together a set of tasty but low carb and (mostly) gluten-free meals.

  19. Allan says:

    Tarawera 2013 was my intro to Trail running, I only did a relay but now I can say I’m truley hooked. It was great to see you & the other elite runners knocking out that insane pace for so long.
    Glad you like NZ & look forward to the 2014 race.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s