Miller and Bartholomew Crowned 2023 TUMMiler Champions

11 February 2023

Zach Miller (USA) and Lucy Bartholomew (AUS) were last night crowned as the 100-mile champions at the Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB, the 2023 UTMB World Series’ season opening event.

Both Miller and Bartholomew led their respective races from the outset and at no point looked like conceding their leads.

Miller finished the 100-mile/ 165-kilometre course in 14:41:41, 30 minutes ahead of second-placed Hajime Mamba (JPN), while Bartholomew finished in 17:54:50, over 40 minutes ahead of runner up Kimino Miyazaki (JPN).

Bartholomew is a previous winner at the Tarawera Ultramarathon (62km in 2018), but the 2023 TUMMiler was her first 100-mile race outside of Western States.

Bartholomew’s win was especially impressive given the obstacles she had to overcome in the days leading up to the race, including sleeping in a van the night before so she could be close to the start line.

“I don't think anyone fully understands what that meant to me out there. It's just been a long time between good races, so it was just nice to have a good race and to do it with the support of so many people out on the course and on the sidelines and the volunteers, it was just something so special that I'll never forget,” said Bartholomew.

“The support of my crew, they all flew from around New Zealand to help and crew me, and they're not trail runners, so for them to spend a good 17, 18 hours out there, we slept in a van so I could get to the shuttle on time, and they sacrificed some good sleep and probably some good nutrition out there just so that they could watch me suffer and moan a lot, which I did,” she said.

The 26-year-old had to adapt quickly from the freezing cold to warmer temperatures after flying in from Colorado, USA, not long before the event.

“It got hot, and I felt that that was probably my downfall, just the management of that, but it was kind of one of those things where it's not something I could control, but I can control my hydration and my electrolytes and the things I could control is what I focused on,” she said.

Bartholomew only entered the TUMMiler last month when she decided to take up her dad’s entry, and so didn’t really expect the race to pan out the way it did.

“I had no plan, my plan was just to get to the finish line in the best shape I could. I didn't really want to dig myself a hole too much, but I ended up doing that because as the day unfolded I was just curious of what I could do if I put the hammer down and picked up my pace. I said to my pacer, we got to send it, let's see what we can do to get to that finish line,” she said. “I found myself at the front of the field and just tried to hold on. I had amazing company in the men's field, they were so nice to me, so polite, it really paced and pulled me along, and that's just something so cool to be supported like that as a female athlete.

“I definitely won't lie, around Blue Lake I was just like, I want to win this, I haven't come this far and dug this deep to give up, and that's when I said to Lydia, my pacer, we got to go all in, let's give it something. I was lucky that I was getting some splits from the app from people around and understood that I had time, but I didn't really want to lean on that, I wanted to see what my potential was out there and to just run my own race,” said Bartholomew.

The Tarawera Ultramarathon was one of the event’s Bartholomew cut her teeth at when she was a young ultra runner bursting onto the scene. She says that’s part of what made this event and this win so special for her.

“Again, no one will understand, Ali (Pottinger) on the mic and Tim Day running me in. These are the people that have taken me in and looked after me, housed me when I was young and couldn't afford accommodation, so it's just like the family, and to have people out there read my bib and be like, ‘oh my god, it's Lucy Bartholomew’ and take photos and selfies, just to light someone up like that is just a gift to be able to do whilst hurting a lot,” said Bartholomew.

The top three male and female athletes in the TUMMiler secured the added bonus of qualifying for the UTMB race (100 miles) at the UTMB World Series Finals at UTMB Mont-Blanc in August.

Zach Miller said before the race that qualifying for UTMB was his main aim, and he was delighted to be able to do that and come away with the win in the TUMMiler.

“It's always nice to put another victory notch on your belt, especially in a new country for me to race in. I guess this is technically my first 100-mile win, the only 100 I've run other than this one is UTMB, so this was drastically different. It's good, but I'm glad it's over,” said Miller.

Though his win never looked in doubt, Miller struggled through an injury niggle for a lot of the race.

“I actually tweaked my calf or my soleus like 20 miles in. I could tell that it was kind of touchy and then 20 miles in, going up the climb after Blue Lake, I just felt it go, I probably strained it a little or tore it a little. I actually stopped running and I tried to hike, and I couldn't even hike very well, and it really slowed me down,” said Miller.

“I could feel it for the entire 80 miles. I mean, it wasn't the worst pain, but it was pretty uncomfortable, and I think for a while it affected my pace and then after a while I kind of ran how I wanted,” he said. “Aside from that, the day was about as flawless as it could have been. I don't think I've ever done my nutrition that well, or my hydration, everything else we pretty much just nailed it.”

In spite of his injury and from an outsiders perspective, Miller looked comfortable with his lead all day long, at some points stretching out the gap to second place to an hour. He says the support he received out on course from spectators, volunteers, and other runners helped keep him going.

“It was fun to see so many runners out there, I actually like that when courses kind of overlap or have out and backs and you get to see the other runners, and there were a lot of fans out there and they would cheer me on or say hello,” he said. “I sort of had a million pacers. Every now and then, me and somebody from the 100k would just kind of latch onto each other and just run together for a while, which was really nice.”

1. Zach Miller (USA) – 14:41:41
2. Hajime Mamba (JPN) – 15:11:30
3. Nicolas Bamford (GBR) – 15:32:57

1. Lucy Bartholomew (AUS) – 17:13:27
2. Kimino Miyazaki (JPN) – 17:54:50
3. Katie Wright (Whanganui, NZL) – 18:19:22