Vajin Armstrong Post Tarawera Ultra Interview

We were lucky enough to catch up post Tarawera with 2x Kepler winner and 2nd place getter of the last 2 Tarawera Ultra Marathon 100k races, Vajin Armstrong. Here is what he had to say about his 2012 Tarawera Ultra-

TheBackcountryRunner – you sounded pretty relaxed the day before the race when I chatted with you,
how was your build up/preparation to TuM compared to last year’s TuM and other ultra’s, say like the Kepler?

Vajin Armstrong- I had a really enjoyable summer of running exploring some great new places and hitting some trails I had always wanted to run. So in that respect it was excellent, however I did have a couple of niggles in the last month or so before the race which meant I had to cancel a couple of build-up races I was looking forward too. Overall though I was confident of putting up a good performance.

TBR – There was a fair amount of hype, by NZ standards, about the men’s field at this year’s TuM- did you buy into it? Going into the race who was keeping you awake at night? Who did you see as the biggest threat for the win?


Vajin leading early
Photo-Paul Petch-

VA- I was less worried and more excited by the opportunity to run against that sort of field. For me I am interested in pushing my own limits and seeing what I am capable of, and there is no better way to do that than by lining up against the best guys around. I always enjoy racing Marty Lukes as I have known and respected him for a long time and you always know you will be in for a race if Marty is around. Of the internationals I really rate Mick Donges, both as a person and as a runner, and I knew I would be spending plenty of the race in his company. I was also looking forward to running against Hiroki as he was entered last year but could not come due to the earthquake in Japan, coming from Christchurch I felt we both had something in common.

TBR – From what I can gather looking at the splits you lead early? Was that the plan going into the race? Mick broke away between Tarawera outlet- falls is that right?

VA- The race broke open at the Outlet aid station when we were clearing out our shoes. Mick thought I had headed out already so started tearing off down the trail to catch me, I however was still serenely clearing out my other shoe. I didn’t see him go and didn’t realize how far he was getting ahead, when we hit the Fall’s aid station he had 6mins on me which would take some catching. I ran hard that next section through the loop of despair and pulled back maybe 45 seconds but Mick was too strong over the last 20km.

TBR – You ran about 15mins slower than last year’s race where you ran with/chased Sam Wreford around. Do you think the small course changes made the difference in time/slower course?

VA- The course was definitely a different beast this year, we had a couple of brand new sections of track, we had some washed out sections and some decent flooding. All of these things lead to it being slower, how much? nobody knows. I felt I ran as fast as I could on the day so am happy with that.

TBR -Bridesmaid for the second year in a row at Tarawera- disappointed or fired up to return next year?

VA- I would be keen to return as I had a great time out on the trails with a great bunch of people in an amazing part of the world. What more could you want than that?

TBR -The TuM is growing in leaps and bounds; this was your second time at Tarawera- how did the event compare to last year?

VA- This year was definitely a big step up for TuM both in the quality of the experience and in the depth and size of the field. Paul Charteris does a great job with this race and I can only see it getting bigger and better. Vibram also stepped up and offered some great support to the event so big thanks also to them.
TBR- Where and when will we see Vajin Armstrong next??- Racing in N America, Routeburn, TNF100 Aust, ANZ 100km champs?

VA- I have a busy schedule over the next few weeks, first up is the American River 50mile on April 7th, then I’ve got Routeburn at the end of April and this leads up nicely to TNF100 in the Blue Mountains.

We are looking forward to the Vajin-Mick re match at TNF100 in May!

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