2017 course changes
Every runner will now finish in Kawerau. The course changes are described here. Please read this as it affects every runner.
0.4km shorter (was 102.8km, now 102.4km) with 35m less elevation gain and 35 metres less elevation loss. The start has been realigned to avoid congestion and will include more sections of Tokorangi Pa to the water tank. Removal of Direct Road means a flatter and quicker run to Blue Lake. Removal of almost all sealed road and inclusion of scenic lakeside singletrack at Okareka. Fishermans Bridge aid station has moved to the south side of the river and runners will follow the southern side from Fisherman’s to Cummings Road. The cutoff times have been relaxed. In 2016, the hardest cutoff pace required was 10:15 min / km, now it is 11:32 / km.
0.4km shorter (was 87.4km now 87.0km) with 35m less elevation gain and 35 metres less elevation loss. The start has been realigned to avoid congestion and will include more sections of Tokorangi Pa to the water tank. Removal of Direct Road means a flatter and quicker run to Blue Lake. Removal of almost all sealed road and inclusion of scenic lakeside singletrack at Okareka. You run a new route from Titoki to Fishermans bridge – including scenic new single track along the river. Fishermans Bridge aid station has moved to the south side of the river and runners will follow the southern side from Fisherman’s to Cummings Road. The cutoff times have been relaxed. In 2016, the hardest cutoff pace required was 10:15 min / km, now it is 11:32 min / km.
0.2km longer (was 62.7 km now 62.9 km) with 440m less elevation gain and 147 metres less elevation loss. New start location just past the Millar Road aid station Relaxed cutoff times by about 2 minutes per km. Every runner now finishes in Kawerau. The course includes new sections of tiny forestry roads after the Titoki aid station which have never been used in an event previously (see two photos above), including new single track over the Puhipuhi stream and along the southern side of the Tarawera River. Generally a flatter and faster course, but also more scenic, more variety and less time spent on roads. Hugely improved finish line atmosphere. The cutoff times have been relaxed. In 2016, the hardest cutoff pace required was 11:55 min / km, now it is 14:06 / km.
New 62.8 km relay option
The new 62.8km course now allows us to offer a new two-person relay team with each runner completing a 33 or 29km leg. The start is the Millar Road aid station and the change over point is the Tarawera Outlet from where the second runner will continue to Kawerau.
The updated course page on the Tarawera Ultra website contains course stats, descriptions, maps, gpx and kml files.
An incredibly detailed and honest appraisal of the course changes from SquadRun’s Kerry Suter. He has thought of everything!
Some FAQ on the new courses
1. Why was the change made?
For nine years we have done everything possible to make the Tarawera Ultra course more scenic, interesting (not overly massively hard) yet challenging and rewarding for EVERYONE. Everyone means runners of all distances, spectators, supporters and volunteers. We are responsible for some 6000-7000 people on race day.
The severe overcrowding at Tarawera falls means this is no longer a feasible finish line. The Tarawera Falls carpark was designed to handle (at most) about 12 cars and 20-30 people at a time. We squeezed a finish line, aid station, medical tent, comms centre and drop bag zone together with 2000-3000 people into that tight area. At its busiest, there were 500+ people crammed in that small space. At the end of the 62km run, everyone had to walk 1.5 to 2.5km back to the nearest carparks – a cruel twist when you have already completed an ultra.
Also, forestry companies have logged early parts of the course (before Blue Lake) and after Fishermans Bridge – rendering these areas an eyesore – and not worthy of a world-class Ultramarathon.
The new 62km course was designed to….
– Avoid the massive congestion at Tarawera Falls.
– Avoid the long walk back to waiting vehicles.
– Create a better finish line with: hot food, internet access, cellphone, shelter, easy parking, bus pickup, entertainment, volunteer zones, big screen TV, full medical facilities, ambulance parking, child-friendly, live results and live music.
– Reduce start line congestion for runners in every distance.
– Remove runners from roads with cars.
– Remove the need for 62km runners to try and grab a lift back to Kawerau.
– We listened to the 62km finishers from this year and many were very frustrated with the venue in very wet weather – as were our volunteers and contractors.
– Avoid all the ugly recently logged locations.
2. Why was it announced so late?
Changing a course into something even better is a very complex task, and not as simple as just drawing a new line on a map. With any change comes new safety and logistical requirements, and new permissions, and we needed to make sure we had everything covered. The entire Tarawera Forest is privately owned, as were some other parts of potential 62km courses. It took a while concluding negotiations with landowners and forestry management companies. We needed to plan an alternative route that does not interfere with summertime forestry operations.
3. I do not like the new course. I want a refund.
We can understand your frustration if your planned day will now be somewhat different. However, we genuinely believe this is a super course in many respects. There is less ugly forestry road than the original 62km course, you now get to run alongside the Tarawera River, we have created new single track along the Puhipuhi stream and the Tarawera River and added more aid stations to your course. For the first time, you will get to experience the aid stations at Tarawera Falls, Titoki, Fishermans Bridge, River Road and Pipe Bridge. We can now provide you with live finish line results, we will live video broadcast your finish world-wide online. This is a much safer course than before for your crews and spectators, it is more spectator friendly and child friendly. In addition, you will still get to see the 87 and 102km start and we will give you a free shuttle bus ride to the start. There will also be a limited number of bus tickets your friends and family can book to watch the 62km start. Unless you are very fast, and finish before them, you will also get to see some of the best ultra runners in the world as they come past you.
We are not offering a refund as we believe this is a much-improved event offering. You can upgrade your 62km entry at no cost though if you wish.
4. Where is the new 62km race start?
At the start of Western Okataina Walkway, about 200 metres past the Millar Road aid station. Start time is 7:15am.
5. How do I get to the race start
Our free shuttle bus will transport you to the start from 6:15am to 6:25am from The Redwoods Visitors Centre. No private vehicles are allowed.
6. Can my friends and family get to the race start?
Yes, there will be a limited number of spectator spaces on buses. Our free shuttle bus will transport you to the start from 6:15am to 6:25am from The Redwoods Visitors Centre. The buses will return to The Redwoods Visitors Centre immediately after the start. No private vehicles are allowed.
7. Is it on boring forestry roads?
No, the forest road sections are tiny little grassy, pine needle covered forestry roads – its’s more like a double-wide track than a wide road.
8. Will I get overtaken by hundreds of 87km and 102km runners?
It depends very much on your pace. The slower 62km runners will get passed by quite a few 87 and 102km runners – but most of this will occur on the wide open Western Okataina Walkway. Once you have passed the Okataina aid station, you and any 87 or 102km runners around you, should be on a fairly similar pace.
9. What is the new part like (after the Falls carpark)
Small little forestry roads with some new single track after Titoki aid station and longer stretches of single track between River Road aid station and Kawerau. There are very few rocks, gravel or roots. It is very smooth cinder track type running. There is a very short 10m long section of knee-deep water (the Puhipuhi Stream) to wade through at about the 50km point.
10. As a current 62km entrants, can I upgrade to the 87 or 102km, or downgrade to the 62km relay or 87km relay for free?
Yes you can. However, this does not apply to new (after this newsletter is published) 62km entries.
11. Where can I find out about the new course?
Course descriptions, maps and gpx files are here… http://www.taraweraultra.co.nz/the-race/the-course/
12. Can I train on the new section of the course?
Yes you can. We have negotiated access for this part of the forest for summertime weekend runs only. However, the route is absolutely impossible to find on your own, so you will need to wait until we have marked that section. We will try and get this done soon and will post to Facebook.