Carl Read knows what it feels like to stand on the top step of a race podium.
He also knows how much it hurts to not even make it to the finish line, with the Waiuku-based athlete returning to the Tarawera Ultramarathon looking for redemption.
The former professional Ironman and two-time Ultraman winner will line up for his second attempt at the Tarawera Ultramarathon 100-Miler event, with the 41-year-old ready to return to the trails around Rotorua on February 13.
"After not finishing last year I'm after a bit of redemption, to bury some of those demons that I faced," Read said.
"I was down in Rotorua a couple of weeks ago running on those trails and it's just a stunning place to run, the Blue Lake around there, right out to Lake Tarawera. The course is brutal but stunning at the same time, it's just a great place to be and train and race."
While the 2020 race may not have ended how Read planned, he certainly took plenty out of the experience and can't wait to return to New Zealand's largest trail-running event.
"I learned a lot from last year, I learned that I need to slow down, not necessarily slowing down my running but slowing down the day in general," he said.
"I need to take my time when at aid stations and with my crew, rather than going full noise through each and every aid station thinking that I was in an Ironman race.
"I was thinking that valuable seconds were going to cost me a podium or a top five or a top 10 or whatever, in a 100-Miler race that's not the case. Obviously, I learned that the hard way so this time around I've focused on stopping and getting good nutrition in and taking my time throughout the day."
Read is set to be one of almost 250 athletes taking on the physical and mental challenge of the 100-Miler race, with the longest race distance on offer at the Tarawera Ultramarathon experiencing significant growth this year.
In a year where international travel was impossible for most, New Zealanders have embraced trail running at home, with more than 60 per cent of those heading to the Tarawera Ultramarathon taking part in the event for the first time.
"Over the last year Covid has thrown the entire world a huge curve ball and unfortunately those top guys from all over the world can't get here but it's a real good chance for Kiwis to get amongst a local race, support all the guys down in Tarawera and enjoy a great part of New Zealand," Read said.
That's something that I think a lot of Kiwis have done over the summer, get involved with events all over the country because we've been able to.
"That's something that I think a lot of Kiwis have done over the summer, get involved with events all over the country because we've been able to. There's places in New Zealand that I've never been to but hearing from people who have travelled around you think 'Why aren't I exploring New Zealand more?'."
This year marks the 13th running of the Tarawera Ultramarathon, with runners from across New Zealand taking part in either the 21km, 50km, 102km or 100-Miler race, with the 102km event a part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour.
For more information on the Tarawera Ultramarathon, visit www.taraweraultra.co.nz