Author Archives: Paul Charteris

  • UTMB points Tarawera running stones

    New UTMB qualifying standards and Running Stones

    Date :

    17th April, 2019

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris


    The qualifying standards for UTMB have recently changed. This is what the changes are and what they mean for Tarawera and Ultra-Trail Australia runners.

    It’s good news for Tarawera and UTA runners – and we are happy that more runners in our part of the world will get the chance to run UTMB, CCC and other races.

    The current entry system was creaking at the seams and the large number of points (15) required to qualify for UTMB meant that runners had to complete three pretty tough trail ultra races in two years. Typically, this would be two 100-mile runs and a moderate 100k just to qualify. Or, otherwise three substantially vertical 100k’s. For comparison, the 2019 Ultra-Trail Australia 100k and Tarawera 102k were 4 points and the Tarawera 100 miler was 6 points.

    Imagine finishing the Tarawera 102k and UTA 100k this year and then the Tarawera 100-miler in February 2020 and still falling short of qualifying for UTMB. It’s been frustrating for organisers and physically tough on potential entrants. Thankfully, the new system makes qualification more achievable.

    The 2020 UTMB® Mont-Blanc will implementation of a new lowered scale of qualifying points and the implementation of a more flexible lottery.


    Now – you can qualify for UTMB with 10 points over 2 years.  You could run either the Tarawera or UTA 100k distance and back it up with a 100-miler finish and you’ll be in.  You still have to put your name in the lottery and hope that you’re lucky. Here is where it gets interesting….

    Running Stones

    In addition to the lottery, which will continue to exist, and in order to allow for as many runners as possible to one day be eligible to enter the UTMB® Mont-Blanc, the organization will introduce a parallel system offering faster access to its races, starting from January 2020 (i.e. this will kick into effect for Tarawera 2020).

    This latter system will be based on the concept of the “Running Stones”, which will only be awarded to the Finishers of a limited number of races.

    Running Stones will be recorded on a database. Once they have gained the requested number of running stones, runners will get a direct entry for the UTMB® Mont-Blanc race of their choice without having to go through the lottery.

    From January 2020, it will be possible to collect Running Stones by participating in:
    – By UTMB®” events (Gaoligong, Ushuaia, Oman, etc.)
    – The 2020 Ultra-Trail World Tour events. This includes the Tarawera 102k.

    How many Running Stones do you need to enter the UTMB races without having to go through the lottery?

    running stones utmb

    For UTMB races, 1 ITRA point = 1 Running Stone. You need 18 Running Stones to enter UTMB. At the outset, collecting 18 Running Stones is harder to qualify than the 10 ITRA points (you are right), but there are two bonuses.

    1. Running Stones expire after 4 years. Running Stones gained in 2020 can be traded for entry to a 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 UTMB Mont-Blanc race of their choice. i.e you get two years longer than the current qualification window.

    2. You can enter many races offering Running Stones over four years and still qualify. Rather than having to enter two ‘tough races’ in two years you could choose to enter five easier races in four years and still get in.

    3. Running stones allow direct entry without having to go through the lottery.

    4. You can trade-in your running stones to improve your odds in the lottery – if you wish.

     Full details are here on the UTMB website.

  • Why trail running is better (and easier) than road running

    Date :

    25th November, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    By Vera Alves. Warning: Spoilers

    We’re gonna let the cat out of the bag here: trail running is easier than road running. And we don’t mean just a little bit easier: we mean so much easier it’s not even the same sport.

    There seems to be this idea that trail running is a lot more hardcore than road running. Maybe it’s because it’s usually done in more remote locations – in which case, sure, there’s an element of added badassery. But still, trail running is and will always be better for you than running on roads.

    Here are some reasons why:

    Less impact
    The pavement is merciless and hard. The trails are merciless and soft. That jarring on your knees you feel while running along that main road where you live is a lot harder on your body than the feeling of soft trail underfoot on your local park. Road running has a lot higher impact and stress on your joints and a lot slower recovery time.

    License to walk
    Trail running – and ultrarunning in particular – can include a spectacular amount of very much justified walking. See a hill? Walk up it. It’s usually smarter and more efficient to walk up a steep hill than to try to run it anyway. Road hills in urban settings, however, have a maximum inclination that does not provide you with the same legitimate excuse to walk up it.

    Less repetition
    A trail run, compared to a road run, is a much more complete full body workout. You might have to be on your hands and knees climbing up hills at times, working muscles you never thought would be required when going for a run. In that sense, trails are a lot easier on your body, as you are not required to execute the same repetitive sequence of movements that road running requires you to do.

    Peace and quiet
    Forget having to stop at traffic lights or dodge other pedestrians along the way. On the trails, the only thing you have to worry about is making sure you’re getting the most out of the birdsong and the breeze on your face and that incredible feeling of being at one with nature, away from all the worries of your day-to-day life.

    Time in nature has also been proven to improve your mental health, alongside your physical health. It reduces tension, anger and even anxiety and studies show it can even make you more creative.

    Ever seen a morepork dance around your headlamp at night, hop over a snake sunbathing in the middle of a trail or beat a hasty retreat from a skunk who is adamant ‘you shall not pass’. Like us, wildlife tends to be inherently lazy – the same trails that we run along are often the easiest ways to get from A to B for all manner of creatures. It’s always good to share.

    We’re not saying running a trail distance at the next Tarawera Ultramarathon will completely change your life and provide you a level of happiness and self-satisfaction a road race could never help you achieve but… actually, never mind, that’s EXACTLY what we’re saying.

    trail running in new zealand

    For people who are allergic to scenery, plants and smiling trail running is a terrible hobby.


  • 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.

  • How to register

    Date :

    27th August, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    The Tarawera 2019 Registration How To Guide

    All the info you need on how to register for the 2019 Tarawera Ultramarathon. This handy guide contains entry info for all distances.

    First things first…do your research. How much do entries cost? When do prices go up? What is the refund policy, etc. All that information can be found here.

    Now, choose your trail run distance. With 20, 50, 102 and 160k(100 mile) options there is something for everyone (who likes running or walking, possibly crawling in beautiful places). Make sure you find out what’s included in your race entry, what the course is like and if the event fits your needs. Now, throw all common sense away and enter a race you don’t know you can finish. Where’s the fun in trying something easy?

    → DATE & TIME
    11 am on Saturday 1 September (NZ time) is when entries for all distances open. You’re going to need to provide us with some info (see below). You can sign up more than one person at a time – BUT please fill in all their information as accurately as possible (below).

    You’ll create a profile in our online entry system. This is all the usual stuff like name, age, address, phone number and email etc. If you entered the Tarawera Ultra last year or Ultra Trail Australia, your profile will already be stored in the system. You’re good to go.   

    You can create this profile here.

    The next step is entering the race. You’ll be asked the following questions…
    – Nationality.
    – In-race mobile phone (the phone you are reachable on during the race).
    – Emergency Contact Details. Please make sure this person knows you are in the race and is contactable on event day. You will need to give us their name and phone number.
    – Medical Conditions. We request information on medical conditions, recent hospitalisations and any other info. for the sole purpose of providing the best possible care if you become ill or injured while participating in this event. Your information will be treated as confidential and it will not be shared with other parties except those involved in your immediate care.

    You will need to let us know about qualification race. Include the name of your race and post a link to your results. You have until 31 December to complete this. You will also need to show evidence of 8 hours of volunteerism. Please provide the name of the event/activity you volunteered at, the date you volunteered as well as the name and contact details of the person who supervised you. You have until the end of January 2019 to complete this. Note – only two instances of volunteerism can count towards those eight hours – so you cannot volunteer at eight different events for an hour each (for example).  More Tarawera 100 miler info

    We have a number of questions to help us get flavour for who is taking part (you don’t have to answer them all). We will ask about…
    – How did you find out about Tarawera Ultramarathon?
    – Your Company or Organisation
    – Position Held
    – How many additional people are travelling with you to Rotorua?
    – How many nights will you stay in Rotorua?
    – List your Running Club (Only if you are in one)
    – List your Main Sponsor (Only if you have one)
    – What brand of shoes are you planning to race in?
    – What brand of hydration system will you use?
    – Link to blog / website (don’t write anything if you don’t have one!).
    – Compressport shirts for 50, 102 and 160k (100 miler) runners.
    Sizes are…

    compressport shirt size men

    compressport shirt size woman

    If you are living outside New Zealand, we just need a couple more bits of info about you…
    – Local contact
    – Provide the name of an NZ friend or hotel you will be staying at
    – Phone number of this friend or hotel

    Tell us something about yourself for the finish-line. This is for our commentators to tell a story about you.
    How many times have you completed the Tarawera Ultramarathon?
    How many Ultramarathons have you completed?
    Country flag for race number

    Now that you’ve made it past our 20 questions, we have some extras you can buy at the Tarawera Store. Note -all merchandise and tickets are pickup at the Expo only. You can choose to have the BUFF and COMPRESSPORT items sent to you, but you’ll have to pay extra postage. These include…

    • SquadRun Coaching trial. More info. 
    • Race Director’s barbecue ticket. More info.
    • Tarawera Forest Tour on Wednesday.  More info.
    • Thursday morning scenic boat tour and thermal adventure. Limit 50 spots. More info.
    • Kawerau dorm accommodation at Firmin Lodge (102k runners, friends and family). Limit 50 beds.  
    • Tarawera medal holders (one or two bars with black or silver options). Pickup only at Expo. 
    • GPS tracker with MapProgress (50, 102 and 160k only).
    • Race day spectator bus in the Tarawera Forest (102 and 160k spectators).
    • Tarawera-branded Compressport Clothing and Tarawera-branded Julbo sunglasses.
    • Tarawera BUFF.Example screenshot below…


    You have 20 minutes to pay (and all your race entry info. is stored in the system). If you do not pay within this time, you’ll lose everything (except your profile) and you’ll need to start again.

    You’re all done so now go post on social media that you’re certified crazy. Only the truly insane sign up for ultramarathons.

    Any questions, please let us know – or (+64) 27 600 0397
    More info… Enter the Tarawera Ultramarathon | Race week schedule 

    Marae at Te Puia

  • Tarawera ultramarthon

    Running With Bear

    Date :

    15th August, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    How becoming a new father helped me run 100 miles in the most unpredictable way.

    – Steven Blackburn. This article was originally published in Kiwi Trail Runner Magazine.

    Ultramarathon father

    The longest walk

    I have been running for 10 years now and, like anyone who takes up the shoes, I have experienced the incredible highs and deep lows. In the dark hours waking up before the day really began there were two books in those early years that got me through and felt like my link to likeminded people on similar pointless and wonderful journeys. The first was “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall – the inspiring heroic tale of Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara. The other was “Ultramarathon Man” by Dean Karnazes.

    While “Born to Run” was a pinnacle in running texts (IMHO) with mythic legendary figures and amazing tales, “Ultramarathon Man” was more prosaic in some ways. Karnazes’ book, and Karnazes himself, came in for quite a bit of flak which always felt very unfair to me since his message was get out there and run – there was little more to it than that and he was proof that a regular person can, if they have the desire, push themselves physically and mentally so beyond what we typically define as normal.

    What struck me about Dean’s book was his description of The Western States Endurance Run – a 100 mile foot race through the Californian mountains that began as a horse race until one fateful day when competitor Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse was lame and thought hell I’ll run the race with the horses and see what happens. Again someone who hoped and guessed they could do it and pushed off into the unknown.

    Dean’s book was his discovery, or rediscovery, of running in his 30s (don’t we all rediscover running?) and how he heard about the Western States and thought – well there’s a challenge worth undertaking.

    The story of that race blew me away. It lasts chapters and isn’t so much a race report but more a Homeric journey with Dean battling exhaustion, altitude, a fall, night blindness and crawling through a town avoiding traffic towards the finish line. It was epic, it was beyond imagining, it was terrifying and I really wanted to do it. Preparing for races and long trail runs, passages would come back to me. I’d read pieces the night before a run to get my juices flowing. For a runner this was inspo porn on steroids. Well maybe on some electrolytes.

    Flash forward.

    I’ve escalated.

    It started as half marathons, then full marathons.

    My first 50K left me pale and exhausted. Then came 100K races across trails and climbs that we describe as technical, in an effort to make them sound like professional summations and yet that word never fully depicting the rocky root strewn mudfest out there.

    All the time, the Western States Endurance Run carried on with limited places, meaning a lottery has to be held every year to choose runners who had managed the to hit the criteria and qualified in a race that counted. In New Zealand, this means Tarawera Ultramarathon and that’s a race I have loved since I first set foot on the course.

    I’d run various distances of Tarawera in previous years and loved every painful minute. I’d run the course that was rerouted because of the fire risk, I’d run the full “original” 100km course to Kawerau, I’d run the course that went back on itself in the middle of a cyclone to avoid the risks of the forest falling on runners. And then, in 2017, the organisers announced the inaugural 100 mile race for February 2018. This was the hellish challenge I needed, and a massive step forward in the process to qualify for the lottery to the race of my dreams. Even if it took years to get in it had to start somewhere – and that place was the start line of my first 100 miler.

    There was only one hugely complicating overwhelming wonderful factor: we call her the Bear.

    The bear’s real name is Eva and she was born on one sunny afternoon in the summer of 2017, about a week before the 2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon, the wonderful reason I skipped that year’s race. Instead of a trail, in 2017 I ran the excruciatingly beautiful ultra that is the beginning of parenthood.

    The bear is a delight. She radiates so much happiness and wonder and fills our days. We become giddy at so many things and feel a passion for the everyday that we had thought we’d lost outside the trails.

    My wife wants to go back to work so, early on, we make the decision that I’ll quit my job to be home with the bear and start my own little business, in between naps and nappies. A year later business is falling into place but, looking back, it was a crazy, terrifying, risky big step. However hip it sounded, we spent a lot of time stressing and came near to running out of funds completely but her belief in me, in us, never wavered.

    The bear throughout is stunning – she never stops surprising us. Belief in us is all she has.

    She is hilarious and cheeky and wonderful but…

    The bear hates sleep.

    We find what works, as parents do – walking with her prone in my arms she moans her way to sleep, head pressed against my chest listening to my steady heart beats. It works but it takes a terrible toll on us, on me. Hours walking through the nights, through the day.

    My back and arm muscles strengthen but I still wince in pain when I bend.

    We walk. Early on the midwife tells us the bear likes my low heart rate. Because of all the time we spend together, she is also locked in on my smell, my pace, my heartbeat. In seconds, she relaxes with me. But still she won’t sleep easily. Never easily.

    And so, day and night, we walk.

    We walk through the night hours. We walk and sooth.

    She sleeps on me. She is safe there.

    We try all sorts of other approaches to calm her, to help her rest but nothing works and so on we walk. Day and night we walk.

    And my training. Oh yeah that. That 100 mile race that seemed so far away now looms rapidly. At 5am I should be out running 20 or 30kms. I manage some runs each week but other times I’ve only just hit the bed when the alarm goes off for my run, after a night of walking the bear, so I roll over and do what they tell us to do: sleep when she sleeps.

    I am starting to not believe. V, bear mum and my person, continues to believe in me. She sees me dropping weight, she sees me tired and pushing on. She listens to my complaints and then gives me the support to get back up again.

    And then we walk. Day and night we walk. I can only get on roads to run these days. Time is so precious and I just don’t have the hours to spare on return drives to trailheads, so I grab slices of moments when I can get away and run straight out of the door. My longest single training run is 54km and only thanks to V insisting I have to train –  The big day is a few weeks away and I can’t neglect any more.

    Still, we walk. Day and night, we walk. It gets easier but the walking never fails. Listening to the bear breathing deeply. Waiting for the soft sag of her little body that tells me she’s given up and is asleep enough to be put in her cot.

    Sleep deprivation is just the new normal. One hour of light sleep and then we walk. Two hours of light sleep and then we walk.

    I’m not sure I can do this race – I just haven’t put the work in.

    A month away now. This is crazy.

    We walk, the bear and I, through the quiet blackness of the night.


    Steven Blackburn at the Tarawera 100 MIle Endurance Run

    The longest run

    Flash forward.

    It’s around 2am although, to be honest, I have lost track of the time again.

    I’m not walking the bear around the room like I usually am around this time. I’m somewhere in the dark on the infamously “undulating” Okataina track, surrounded by trees, glow worms and mud. Heaps of mud. So much mud. That’s when the hallucinations start kicking in. Shadows in the headlamp that at first are peripheral but then, as the sleep deprivation and just sheer physical and mental exhaustion continues through the hours, grow stronger – the small alien that I know is a fern but smiles and hops up and down, the Vegas style sign cowboy who lingers twirling a gun. They become odder, sometimes scary companions on this trip into the physical and mental unknown and breakdown.

    22 hours. Running right through the night and watching, almost detached, like some out of body experience as my world boils down to simpleness. Easy decisions that seem life or death. A whole day ago, before I started running, my worries were different. I was different. There are only a few things that matter now – can I take the pain in my feet? Is that chafing getting worse? I haven’t peed blood for hours now and it’s running clear, how far to the top of this hill? Am I hungry? But above all: keep going forward. Onwards. Don’t quit.

    Steven and Vera at the Tarawera 100 mile endurance run

    Beware the chair, they say.  I embrace the chair and the aid stations like never before. Oases of smiles and care from people who even now I tear up thinking about, weeks later. Just regular folks who are out there in this carnage of weather, under torrential rain, doing this for us. Getting us through this. The dropped blanket over my shoulders as I attend to my swollen feet, the tape and scissors handed to me for my bleeding heels, the insistence on food, warm soup. “Do you need anything else?” Again tears at how wonderful humanity can be. I don’t know you, I don’t know any of these people surrounding me asking what else I need. These strangers in the cold hours having been rained on all day are only concerned that the next survivor into the tent is going to make it. They will go to work on Monday morning with bags under their eyes and aches and sneezing, with no medals and only stories of the people they saw. They’re witnesses to someone else’s glory and by choosing to be that, they hold in them all of the world’s humanity. It can’t be but it should be something talked about every day.

    4am and the rain is sideways. The world is reduced to a cone of light from my headlamp and the vision is a scratched white hiss of rain stinging my face. The forestry roads cycle up and up and back on themselves in confusing spirals. Have I been here before? 24 hours now. Random calculations endlessly turn over in my head as I compute and compute finishing times whilst my body bleeds and aches breaking to sort painful pieces but keeps moving ever onwards. “You know how to hurt,” my love told me before I started. I know how to hurt, I tell myself while hurting. Do I?

    Moments of exhilaration with even a little dance or two, singing standards in the dark like I’m banishing my fears on purpose. My legs despite the feet and groin feel fantastic – something is working down there, somehow.

    The ghost white wallaby in my headlamp is not a hallucination. The orange eyes of possums watching me as I slowly pass.

    Sleep deprivation and the incessant rain – over 30 hours so far of rain –  is taking the field apart. I see people stagger in tears.

    I see people bed down in emergency sacks off the trail in the rain.

    One guy passes me going the wrong  way – “Can I help?” I say “I have a pack of gear – what do you need?”

    “It’s not physical, it’s mental, I can’t do this” he says and he staggers off back down the track in the dark.

    I pat people on the back. “Keep going” I say “Not far to the aid station and believe it or not some tarmac” I sound like I am trying to persuade myself.

    In the darks the thoughts of V and the bear. I see their faces. Feel their embraces. The sleep deprivation is now a welcome friend. It’s been with me now so long. The bear got me ready for this. The whole time I thought she was stopping me from training, she was training me. Coach bear and her questionable training plan.

    Then the dawn and the head lifts an inch or two. Gotta keep pushing. 29 hours and my love is there again with me. How does she do this? She has given as much as me to get this done. So much excitement and happiness for me. For this. She must be exhausted but runs at me all hugs and hair and kisses and what do I need and keep going, keep going. Me shattered and staggering the only words I have are “destroyed” and “broken”. Broken but, as they say, unbowed. This is love at its most raw and primal and all consuming.

    Tears in my eyes at the pain in my feet, alone again moving sideways on the trail. The burning around my groin and waist. My favourite shorts that never chafed me once are now razors after 30 plus hours of rain. My body leaks blood like osmosis whenever I check painful areas. The slow but scarily rapid descent the physical and mental parts of us take when pushed to extremes.

    5KM to go. V is driving like a banshee from the last aid station to be at the finish line to welcome me. Friends Mal and Carl both appear separately from out of nowhere to “run” with me to the finish. I hobble behind them and we talk and muse on life and running. My pace picks up a little.

    The night seems a lifetime away as the morning is in full force now. Normal people on the streets nod and clap and cheer me on. Then there I am at the finishing chute alone watching my love running towards me and drawing me on. “Run to the finish,” she says and, despite my protests, run I do on broken feet and numbed body. Holding her hand tightly as the rain lashes us yet again. 30.5 hours and my first 100 miler is complete. I’m dazed.

    I sit in a tent near the finish line. People stare at me like I can explain what happened out there. I have no words. No explanation.


    The full loop

    Snapshots of memory. I sit eating a wrap. The bear is there at my feet she reaches up and takes a bite of my food (it’s the usual bear tax, she needs to try it all). I give her the medal to play with – it was always hers anyway. I’m in a strange disconnected mode watching me as I quietly exist. The bear, my love V there waiting with me as I try to reassemble myself to leave the finish area.

    All those nights were my training for this. Carrying the bear whilst my brain screamed sleep – that was my training even if I never knew it.

    How did you walk on those feet someone asks? So much blood and pain. I practised walking. I walked miles and miles even when I couldn’t run. I didn’t know it but the bear was training me.

    I have missed the cut off time for the Western States qualifier entrance but what happened to me out there is more marked than I can express. I honestly don’t care. Couldn’t care at all. A circle has been completed that I didn’t even know was being drawn over the last year. She came into the world and her birth changed my life and one year on I have walked this planet with her and for her and these 100 miles were only the latest of the hundreds of miles we’ve done.

    I never want to do this again and yet I want to do this as soon as the cuts, blisters, aches and pain subside. My socks that tore mid race are binned, bloodied bandages litter the ground and I drink a beer and coffee in unison. The bear now sits on my knee. I never want to run again but maybe in a couple of days I can.

    This is a part of me now, deep and quiet inside and although it hasn’t sunk in I know this will change everything.

    I think I’m ready to attempt getting up from this chair. My little crew take me to the motel to sleep and to heal and to build me back up. Out of the rain we walk.

    And, day and night, we’ll keep walking some more.Walking forward, walking around, walking in circles, we won’t stop moving. Not until the bear finally sleeps.

    Steven is currently easing back into training and hoping to compete in the Javelina Jundred in Arizona in October to start his lottery process for The Western States next year. He kind of cared a little more about taking part in that race than the above would suggest.

    The bear still likes to be carried to sleep. We still walk through the night while most sleep.



  • Tarawera Ultramarathon

    2019 Tarawera Ultramarathon has something for everyone

    Date :

    14th August, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    Participants and supporters involved with the 2019 Tarawera Ultramarathon will get even more out of the experience next year, with the signature ultra events – the 102km and 100-miler – capping a new five-day festival of events.

    The Tarawera Ultramarathon week will be held from 6 to 10 February, 2019 with a new 20km trail run on Friday 8 February, a new 50km event on Saturday 9 February, a two-day expo, as well as the two long distance events which will both take place on Saturday 9 February.

    Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre will form the “home base” for the events, as well as hosting the expo, 100-miler start line, and the finish lines for all events.

    As well as the running events, the four-day festival will include seminars, a “Thank God I’m not Running” party, live music at the finish line on Saturday 9 February and more.

    Event Organiser Paul Charteris, says the changes represent the biggest overhaul of the Tarawera Ultramarathon in ten years.

    “The Tarawera Ultramarathon holds a special place in the hearts of athletes and supporters alike around New Zealand – and around the world.

    “Last year we made two significant changes, introducing the inaugural 100 miler event and reversing the direction of the all of the associated running events to finish in front of the Rotorua Museum in Government Gardens.

    “These changes were received extremely positively by everyone involved, so we wanted to take a fresh look at the race week calendar in order to keep evolving and improving the events – and the ultra experience.”

    Mr Charteris says that as part of this process, the team have made the difficult decision to remove the 62km and 87km individual and relay events from the 2019 Tarawera Ultramarathon.

    “We know this may come as a surprise and disappointment to some, however, we wanted to introduce the new 50km and 20km events to ensure our events are accessible to as many people as possible.

    “The original programme would have meant nine different races underway across a vast area. As a result, we wouldn’t be able to give each distance and runners the love and respect they deserve, and we are not prepared to compromise on these critical aspects of our events – or health and safety.

    “Ultimately we will have an expanded suite of events in terms of distances, days and locations, and we can be fully committed to ensuring the quality and experience of each event, for every person.”

    Mr Charteris says with Wednesday 6 February being Waitangi Day – and therefore a statutory holiday – people have the opportunity to have a decent break in Rotorua, experience everything the region has to offer, and make the most of the Tarawera Ultramarathon festival week.

    At this stage, entries for the full programme of events will open online on 1 September, 2018.

    Further information is available at


  • Laszlo’s Tarawera story

    Date :

    11th March, 2018

    Published By :

    Paul Charteris

    I didn’t really start running properly until about 5 years ago, I had done a couple of 10 km and half Marathons before hand but had not really committed to anything,
    But saying that about 6 years ago I had said to my wife Lynette that my so called running days were over because everything was constantly sore; my legs, back etc, and they never seemed to improve.

    I had decided to join a gym and then a boot camp up in Auckland. From their my Fitness and strength went up , being part of X10 was amazing and got me in shape.
    From there I joined up with 808 house of training, OMG , This place took me to another level ( and still is )

    A while later a couple of friends and I decided to tackle Oxfam , I loved it. I loved it so much I went back and did it again a year later.

    Then my sister in law (Sharon ) gave me a ring one night and said we should do the Tarawera 60km ultra, hmmm , sounds good , OK
    And then I asked her to tell me about it , Wow , sounded exciting

    So we both signed up for it and started training, I decided to get help from James Kuegler.
    I had never run any further than 21 km , I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for.

    I had trained my behind off for this and now it was race day
    It was wet and muddy and it had been raining a lot the night before ,
    I didn’t think it was that bad on the day but my wife and my supporters said it was bad
    I had finished my first ultra , I couldn’t believe it , I swore I would never do it again

    Yeah right

    Within a day I was talking about doing the 100 km next year
    Sure enough I had signed up for the 50km in November and the 100km in February

    I finished the 50km and thought to myself holy shit , how the hell am I going to do the 100 km
    But I did

    The 100km wasn’t a good day for me everything that could go wrong went wrong
    I was throwing up , I had hit the wall very early in the race ,
    And with the support of Lynette and my pacer Abe I managed to finish it,

    I was done with the ultra, never again

    Within Two hours I was planning the next race

    I had signed up for the 42km , my official first Marathon , and then the 87km

    The 42km was a good run , still had a lot to work on but with the help of Abe Dyer, 808 house of training, who is training me I knew I could do it

    The last distance of the 5
    The 87km , another wet and muddy day , I had learned a lot over the last couple of years, and It was a bit slower than I wanted to do but it was a good day , felt good,

    A special thanks to Abraham Dyer for pacing me for the 100 km and the 87 km
    It meant a lot to me having you there

    The Tarawera Ultra has been life changing for me , it has pushed me further than anything I had through I could do

    I couldn’t have do this with the support of my amazing wife Lynette,
    Thank you my sweetheart

    2016-60 km
    2016-50 km
    2017-100 km
    2117-42 km
    2018-87 km

    Who knows what lies ahead
    Just need to keep pushing the boundaries as long as I can

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