A pair of American runners have shrugged off wet, muddy conditions and a tough course to claim the men's and women's Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km titles.

Dylan Bowman finished in 8h 27m 41s to become just the third man to win the event's premier race multiple times, having won in 2015 as well.

Fellow American Cody Reed finished second in 8h 36m 34s, while New Zealander Sam McCutcheon was third in 8h 45m 16s.

In the women's 102km race American Kelly Wolf was the fastest. It was her first time competing in the event and she finished in 10h 8m 45s.


Another American Amanda Basham was second in 10h 17m 38s and Australian Erika Lori was third in 10h 53m 20s. Courtney Pratt was the fastest Kiwi woman, finishing fourth in 11h 11m 29s.

The course was reversed this year, to finish at Rotorua's Government Gardens, and Bowman said that coupled with the wet conditions made it a tough race.

"It was incredibly hard, this is my second time here and it felt twice as hard as the last time. Going in the opposite direction made the course significantly harder and slower.

Dylan Bowman celebrates the win. Photo / Stephen Parker
Dylan Bowman celebrates the win. Photo / Stephen Parker

"It feels great [to be a two-time winner]. I love it here and the race directors are good mates now. I like to support people like them, I've travelled all over the world to race and it's rare that I actually repeat a race," he said.

Bowman, Reed and Australian Vlad Shatrov broke away at the start of the race.

"We ran pretty much together for about 50km and then Vlad kind of fell off the pace, Cody and I ran together for another 10km or so and then right around Okataina I managed to get some separation - luckily it was enough to hold him off at the end."

McCutcheon said he was pleased with third place.

"It was a pretty tough ask, so really happy with the result, my goal was top three. In New Zealand there's this and the Kepler [Challenge] - this is the one with all the internationals so it's awesome in that sense.


"It was brutal, switching the course around means you get all the runnable stuff at the start...then you've got to do the hills and it's all mud. But it was good fun and great to be in Rotorua," he said.

American Kelly Wolf was the fastest woman in the 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km race. Photo / Stephen Parker
American Kelly Wolf was the fastest woman in the 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km race. Photo / Stephen Parker

Female winner Wolf was visibly emotional as she crossed the finished line and broke into tears.

"I couldn't do anything but cry, after being in so much pain for the last 12 miles (19.3km). They were tears of pain and also just so much joy that it was over, there were a lot of emotions out there.

"It was so muddy for the first 50 miles (80.5km)...sometimes I would just run into a puddle up to my waist. They were not ideal conditions so it just made it so much harder. It feels awesome [to win], but it was very hard and it took a lot," Wolf said.

And the women's Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km winner Kelly Wolfe crosses the line!

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Friday, 9 February 2018

Basham said Wolf set a fast pace.

"I was trying to hang but stay a little bit back, so I wasn't pushing it too much, and I was still pushing more than I was used to. All the stopping makes you're legs cramp up more because it's so muddy and rooty you stop a lot.

"I think [second place] was really good, because I closed the gap from 23 minutes to five minutes in the last 20km. I love New Zealand, me and my friend are convinced to move here," Basham said.