Monthly Archives: October 2018

  • podcasts ultra running

    Podcasts to get you through those long runs

    Date :

    30th October, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    Last year we published a list of outdoor adventure podcasts to help keep your chin up when putting in the hard yards preparing for the Tarawera Ultra and here we find ourselves again. Welcome back. How have you been?

    The weather keeps promising Summer is here, then gives us an almighty deluge to remind us why those seam-sealed jackets are important. Training for an ultra isn’t all technical trails marvelling at the beauty of trees and ferns and finding ourselves absorbed in the wonders of stunning vistas. It’s often grinding it out on tarmac and pavements with drivers mistaking you for a possum. So here’s our guide to podcasts to keep your mind in the game and your spirits up.

    Doesn’t matter where you are – 38km into a long run, wandering the veggie aisle or working on a presentation in the office these podcasts are gonna cheer you right up and keep you focused on the prize.

    DirtChurch Radio:
    So excellent to kick this off with a new Kiwi entry to the list and a superb one to boot. If you haven’t listened to Eugene and Matt’s weekly output then please stop reading this and go to your fav podcast content provider and download the lot. Great in-depth interviews with some well-known people of the NZ running scene but also some awesome international runners including the likes of Jeff Browning (can’t wait to see him run the Tarawera trails this coming year!), Dean Karnazes and many more. Also an interview with our very own Paul Charteris – what more persuasion do you need? Support our boys and an excellent body of work.

    The Bad Boy Running Podcast:
    One of my favourite podcasts not just in running terms but all up. David Hellard and Jody Rainsford are both pretty decent runners but their podcast is in a league of its own. Whereas many running podcasts get caught up in analysis and complex (often dull) information about running, training and racing Bad Boy Running is hilarious. The guys spiral off at tangents endlessly with hilarious discussions and ridiculous ideas. Great fun.

    Do yourself a favour and go back and listen to the AtoZ of Bad Boy Running episodes and then 2 or 3 episodes that appeal to you – there are many. Running at typically 2 hours long these are great for the long run and once you get the in jokes and references you’ll be chuckling along (and actually learning a thing or two).

    Billy Yang Podcast
    Billy Yang is a filmmaker and an ultrarunner and just an all round good person who is known to virtually all trailrunners (what? You don’t know who he is – please find Youtube on the internet and start a few days of watching his excellent movies). The podcast is a departure for Billy from movie making and already is firmly becoming one of my favourite things to tune into – the guests are eclectic and interesting and well known to anyone into ultras and outdoor adventure. His 1st podcast with Tony Krupicka and also the interview with Magdalena Boulet are well worth listening to as a start but also the recent Tim Olson interview is one of the best interviews i’ve tuned into.

    Trail Runner Nation:
    Another classic podcast for the long run. Trail Runner Nation is like hanging out in a bar listening to a bunch of people who just ran the same race or track you did and are now debating it in miniscule detail. Jocular and welcoming and always a good range of topics and opinions I love some of the stuff these guys cover – if you want to start somewhere their recent Grit episode is a good one. Give them a try!

    Marathon Talk:
    Ah Marathon Talk…the banter of 2 Englishmen that has carried me many miles. Marathon Talk is a weekly podcast that’s already way over 400 episodes old and 5 million downloads and counting. Showcasing the community of marathon runners out there around the world it’s filled with news, interviews, views on drugs in sport and some great training tips. Admittedly it’s very marathon focused (duh!) and some of the talk on times and splits and stuff leaves me cold but for the sheer joy and passion for the sport it can’t be beat. Hearing about the latest antics of the 2 hosts Martin Yelling and Tom Williams (particularly involving shorty shorts and budgie smugglers) always gets me smiling. Convert my trail running friends.

    Ginger Runner Live:
    Another well-established character and fav in the trail running community, the Ginger Runner, it seems, has always been there! Ethan Newberry is one of the most enthusiastic presenters and runners – his movies are well worth checking out! His podcast reads like a who’s who of interviews and race overviews. Simply not to be missed.

    The Dirtbag Diaries:
    Brought to you by Duct Tape Then Beer (if you haven’t heard of these folks PLEASE go check them out), The Dirtbag Diaries is an eclectic podcast of short stories and escapades all based on the great outdoors. These are stories that focus on all sorts of characters, on things going awry, on things to make you laugh and some solid lessons for life. They say they are on track for 3 million downloads this year after 11 years – get involved!

    Talk Ultra:
    We’re well into it now huh. Yes Talk Ultra is a kick ass fortnightly podcast for trailheads. You’ve heard of it surely. Another Who’s Who of anyone involved in the scene just work through the back catalog and you’ll find your running heros. Love the fact it’s bang up to date and the interviews do get some great depth. You already are listening to this aren’t you?

    The First 40 Miles:
    Join Heather and Josh Legler and dive into the world of backpacking. These guys are really open and welcoming and will get you totally hooked on the simple pleasures of slinging on a pack and heading out of your door and into the wild. You name it these guys will talk about it and how it relates to backpacking – barefoot, toilets, kids, trends, electronics…. The list and the enthusiasm are endless

    Touching the Trail:
    A curious one this but shows some real podcast. Jarod Contreras is a young ultrarunner whose podcast definitely leans on the spiritual. It’s an eclectic mix of ultrarunnng talk, great interviews, book discussions, meditations on yoga and living. Definitely worth looking into for a different style and pace. Great on a quiet long run.

    Becoming Ultra:
    I’ve only recently started listening to these and they are pretty good. Short, sharp lessons and techniques so worth dipping in and out, but some of their longer occasional stuff is pretty interesting too.

    Craft beer, race news and the black toenails hall of fame. It’s all here on Ultrarunner Podcast. A good source of interviews and again tends to be very US-centric but nonetheless some good quality content that travels. Another essential listening aid for any ultra runners out there.

    Outside/in radio:
    More wonderful stories from outdoors brought to life by Sam Evans-Brown – if getting into issues and spending the time to get a depth and understanding of the outdoors and nature and the world we inhabit are your thing then look no further. Great podcast.

    Science of Ultra:
    Science of Ultra covers pretty much anything you ever wanted to know about the science of ultrarunning, whether that’s nutrition, hydration or gear related. World leading scientists, running coaches and ultra athletes all come together in this podcast to sift through all the bollocks out there about ultrarunning and find only the actual true scientific facts that matter. In today’s world where everyone is an expert, what we need is more of this.

    podcasts ultra running

    Ultra runners and podcasts go together like ultra runners and craft beer. It’s just a thing.

  • The Why of the Tarawera Ultra

    Date :

    23rd October, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    One the speediest runners to ever tackle the Tarawera Ultramarathon, Australia’s David Byrne contemplates why? 

    As trail runners, we’re blessed with a huge amount of events to choose from. In the last few years the sport has boomed and as a result, more and more races have popped up. The calendar is full of cool events in epic places, all of varying distances with different challenges and rewards for those willing to toe the line. So when I tell folks that I’m headed back to Tarawera for the third time, I’m often asked ‘why do the same event when there are so many other options?’ The answer is a complex one, but in essence, there are three key reasons.

    1. The Location

    The backdrop for the Tarawera Ultra Marathon is spectacular. There are few places on the planet with geography as diverse and pretty as you’ll experience across the course of the 100km event. From lush rainforests with vast stands of tree ferns, to towering waterfalls, rolling hills and pristine lakes. Hell, even the timber plantations are a joy to run through! What’s more, the main hub of Rotorua – with its distinct bouquet – makes for a great place to spend a few days before and after the race. The region is an outdoor enthusiasts dream, with great food and wine too.

    David Byrne at the Tarawera Ultramarathon

    David Byrne at the Tarawera Ultramarathon

    2.The ‘Type’ of Course

    As previously mentioned there are all sorts of races on the calendar to choose from. There are mountain epics with loads of hiking or thousands of stairs to endure. You’ve got events that are flat and fast, others that are really technical, and there are races that combine it all. However, the Tarawera Ultra is best described as a mix of flat, fast running, with lots of rolling single track and a few punchy hills to test the pins. This is the kind of terrain that suits me best. By no means am I suggesting that I’m not a climber, or capable of running technical stuff, but I relish the ability to move quickly across the ground with trees rushing by and being able to run freely, far more than I enjoy having my hands on my knees grinding out a mountain hike. Plus I live in the centre of Sydney and lead a very busy life, like a lot of others out there, which in turn means almost all my running is on the road and flat ground around the city. So naturally, I’m going to favour an event that fits in with my training environment.

    3. The Culture

    This is arguably my main reason for loving the Tarawera Ultra Marathon so much. There are two sides to the culture of this event, both of which are awesome. One aspect is the community vibe and inclusive atmosphere created by the race directors and their team. This event is for everyone, of every ability, and all those that participate are made to feel equally appreciated and special. It’s an incredibly social occasion spanning several days, and in that time you become part of the Tarawera Family. From the back to the front of the field, we’re all in it together! The flipside to the coin is the world-class field they amass every year. Somehow, most likely through lots of hard work, they manage to bring many of the best ultra runners on the planet together, to toe the line in the middle of the rainforest in a faraway corner of the world. No other trail race in the southern hemisphere, and very few in the northern, are as competitive as this one. It’s a testament to how good an event Tarawera is, and for me, I’ll take any chance I get to bang heads with the best!

    One final thing I was asked to mention in this blog is what training looks like for me. Well, it’s relatively basic and while it will vary a little from week to week, I use a simple framework.

    Monday: Recovery run 16-18km easy
    Tuesday: Light session, such as 18km with 20mins hard in the middle, or a steady 16km with the last 20mins a little quicker.
    Wednesday: Medium long run. 20-24km easy.
    Thursday: Similar to Tuesday.
    Friday: Rest or easy 8km
    Saturday: Session of longer reps (eg 3 x 3km) or a tempo run followed by some short hill sprints.
    Sunday: Long run. 2 to 3:30 hours.

    – My volume generally hovers around 120-130km/week. I’ll hopefully get a couple 160-180km weeks in mix when time permits.
    – I also try to do weights or a circuit a couple nights a week.
    – I try to run in the mountains every few weeks.

    David Byrne at the Pohutu Geyser Rotorua prior to the Tarawera Ultramarathon

    David Byrne at the Pohutu Geyser Rotorua prior to the Tarawera Ultramarathon

  • Why run the Tarawera 100 miler?

    Date :

    17th October, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    Father, husband and runner, Steven Blackburn contemplates why? 

    What a question. Where to begin?

    Why run at all? To push further? To transcend, to keep in shape, to challenge yourself, to be free, to escape, to belong? There are no right answers to these big questions, all of them are right. All of them are personal, all of them can only be answered by you.

    tarawera 100 mile endurance run

    Why run 100 miles?

    In a way it’s an arbitrary number as much as 42.6 kilometers is.

    And yet there is something captivating about it, something that says maybe that’s the pinnacle.

    Although now you hear about 200 mile races… so maybe not. But 100 miles. 100. It says something.

    If you’re a runner you have already thought about all this in those long dark hours when the noise echoes in the silence of the world…how far can I go? How far do I want to go? Why do I need this?

    I started out running 5kms and have now run my first 100 miles at Tarawera this year. 5kms gave way to 10kms, then half marathons, then marathons, then the first ultra, then the 100km and then suddenly after years of reading about Western States, Hardrock, Leadville and UTMB, in our own backyard my favourite trails were setting us up for the possibility of racing (well running) 100 miles.

    Could I do it? I had a small new baby and so many obligations, could Ido it? I had to try. And I did it. And it was brutal and hard and terrible and wonderful and made me trust my instincts and my body in a way I never have before. It brought my closer to my wife in a way I can’t articulate. I broke myself and remade myself so many times out there.

    Running 100 miles…that choice is up to you. I can’t tell you what part of the challenge is going to get you to toe the line – you have to figure that out for yourself but here’s what i know: If you have run beyond 50km you can do this. If you want to push yourself to breaking point and seeing if you still stand then you can do this. The 100 miles is a very, very personal and honest race. There’s not much glory, there’s plenty of guts and almost too much introspection. It’s not a showy and gaudy achievement, it doesn’t shout from billboards – it doesn’t need to. It’s quiet, it’s at peace in you. It’s a stillness. You got this. And you got it under your own steam and through your own amazing body and sheer strength of will, stubborness.

    It’s only by going to these depths and these edges and that we really truly know what we’re capable of (it’s more than you’ll ever imagine). So what are you waiting for? Step up and see.

    Specifically why run the Tarawera 100?

    It’s a stunningly beautiful iconic race. The trails pass through some of the most lush landscapes and the power of the people and history seeps into those trails. It’s a community that will carry you, and your competitors will encourage you every single step of the way however destroyed they are. In the silence of the 8 lakes and the crazy churning roar of Tarawera Falls you will find inspiration. As the glowworms light up the undergrowth, as you head through the night you will push further in your own personal race. You will overcome.

    Tarawera 100 mile endurance run

  • How to choose your first ultramarathon

    Date :

    10th October, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    Six key factors to consider when choosing your first ultra race

    When to run

    It’s a fine balance giving yourself enough time to train while also choosing an ultramarathon close enough in the calendar that you’ll get giddy with excitement and terrified enough to actually get out and get the training done.

    The reality is that there is no ideal length of time to train as it all depends on your personal circumstances and your own level of fitness. Your ultramarathon can happen in two months time or in six months time, the important thing is to map out a process that will see you at that start line ready to go.

    While it is true that a jump from marathons (or any distance under that) to ultramarathons will see an increase on your mileage when training, it’s important to remember that you don’t actually need to run a whole lot more when training for an ultra. You certainly don’t need to get anywhere near 100km in a training run when you’re training for a 100km race. Focus on time on feet and consistency in your training. Commit to a few short runs and one long run every week and be mindful of what your body shows it can do.

    Ultra runners have a ‘time on feet’ motto. Simply spending time on your feet is good training for an ultramarathon. So too is being outdoors. Sitting in an air-conditioned office is not going to help with training – but if you can get outside and mow the lawns (assuming you are not using a ride-own mower), plant the vege garden or carrying a baby around the house – it all helps.

    When it comes to the question of “when” to do your first ultra, the season is also an important consideration. Heat and cold weather are important factors that affect any race so, for your first ultra, choose the one you’re most comfortable running in – but also be prepared for the fact that the weather could be completely different to what’s expected for that time of the year.

    Whether you have two or six months to train, there are a ton of online resources and training plans to get you ready for your first ultra so find a plan that suits your lifestyle and get cracking as soon as you finish reading this article.

    Finishing an ultramarathon race

    Where to run

    The terrain and difficulty level of your first ultra is an important consideration to keep in mind.

    It’s easy to get severe wanderlust from all the YouTube clips of people running on some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth but it’s also important to treat your first ultra as a stepping stone to bigger goals. In other words, don’t get overly excited and bite more than you can chew.

    Choose an ultra that feels like a natural progression from the races you’ve done before. If you’re used to running up and down mountains, go forth and sign up for that hilly ultra without fear. If, however, you are more used to flatter trails or are new into trail running from road races, we suggest starting out with a trail that isn’t too mountainous.

    Also, choose a course that you can emulate during your training. You don’t want to be stuck training on flat roads if you signed up for a mountain ultra so, whatever race you choose, ensure your training matches what you’re training for.

    How far to run

    In general terms, anything over a marathon distance is an ultramarathon. However, not all ultras are born equal. 50km, 75k, 100k, 100 miler… there’s a whole lot of distances to choose from so we suggest you study them well before deciding which one to bite first (let’s face it, it may be your first one but you’ll be hooked and it won’t be your last).

    We suggest starting with a “shorter” of the ultra distances and build it up over the years. This will increase your chances of succeeding and boost your confidence for the next race.

    Research, research, research and then research some more

    There are more than 12,000 trail running races across the globe, so you have some choice. If you’ve narrowed it down to an ultra that you think you’d like to run, read every race report you can find about it, preferably from different years (as different weather conditions make for different races). Join Facebook groups with people running the same race and get tips and advice from those on the same boat as you.

    Ultramarathons are much better shared with a friend

    Embrace the challenge

    Whatever race you choose, it is going to change your life. Few things we do in our life get to define us the way an ultramarathon does. Make sure you choose a race you feel is worthy of your first ultra-distance run. The day after your first ultra, you wake up an ultramarathon and that is a label that will never leave you, a badge of honour to wear with pride. Choose a race that you will be happy to look back on as your first ultra (and one you’ll hopefully be happy to return to over the following years).


    Hold onto that moment

    In the minutes, hours and days after you’ve completed your first ultramarathon, you’ll feel 10-feet tall and utterly invincible. The feeling will fade with time (unfortunately), but you should be very conscious of embracing the moment. Dream up new challenges, set some audacious goals, work hard and achieve them. You’ve just completed something that 99.99% of Kiwis never will. That makes you pretty darn special.