Ruby Muir is a freakishly talented long-distance runner for such a young age. The 22-year-old from Whenuakite on the Coromandel Peninsula has been turning heads locally for many years, and made a name for herself on the international stage when she won the Vibram Tarawera Ultra (100km race) in March.
The residential support worker, who completed the race in her distinctive Vibram FiveFingers shoes in 10:30:11, blitzed the quality field by 1hr 13min. She is looking forward to defending her title in 2014 when Tarawera joins the Ultra-Trail World Tour.
What did it mean to you to win the Tarawera Ultra this year?
Tarawera was my first 100km race, so I was very happy to prove I could do it. I had been training for it all summer and hard work is always satisfying, and it's an added bonus when it pays off. The previous two years I paced and supported my partner [Kristian Day] as he raced, and this year he was there to support me through this journey that he knew so well. So it also had a very personal meaning for us as a couple to share such powerful experiences.
Did that win provide you with opportunities to compete internationally?
The 2013 Tarawera had a lot of top international athletes from both Europe and America, who brought with them the attention of American and European media. I think it was a wonderful credit to Paul [Charteris] and to this awesome race he has created. It also showcased my running, as up until then I had been doing my best to fly under the radar like a typical Kiwi.
I have been invited to and competed in three international races in these months following Tarawera.
Are you excited about the changes with this race added to the 2014 Ultra-Trail World Tour? How will it change the race?
This new world tour will be a prestigious line-up of races all around the world that are all very different.
Hopefully Tarawera will grow even further with its inclusion and we will see a more diverse field of entrants.
What do you enjoy about the Tarawera Ultra?
I love seeing the entirety of the field: everyone with different goals, ages and abilities all racing together and facing a challenge many would call ridiculous, showing just how achievable it is. More so, the running itself is pleasurable - following plush single-track through native bush and around those gorgeous lakes. For trail-runners, it's the scenery and the camaraderie that keeps us inspired.
You also lead an interesting life away from running. Tell me about your day job?
I work at Hohepa, which is a community home for severely disabled children. I work in a house and I have a key child who is non-verbal autistic. I just try to support him through his daily life and take him to school. It's pretty intense but very rewarding. Running is a good release and time to process my day at work.
How does running and your work balance your life?
In many ways my work and my running are very separate. I need to change gears when I arrive at work and take a totally different approach than I do for the time I take for myself to run. I am naturally a reckless, full throttle-type person - at work I need to slow down and be very mindful, especially when working with autism where details and routines are very important. I have to be able to work out what is upsetting someone who cannot tell me what is wrong. I need to be calm and steady and patient.
Running, especially when I'm in the mountains, gives me time to be the opposite. I have always felt blessed that the skills and the circumstances were given to me to build the life I want, and it is a privilege to help those who have to work much harder and have so many more hurdles to cope with.
2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultra (100km)
1.Ruby Muir (Vibram, UltrAspire, New Zealand) 10:30:11
2.Beth Cardelli (Salomon, Australia) 11:43:56
3.Kelly Harrington (United States) 14:23:56
4.Raewynne Blommerde (New Zealand) 14:35:55
5.Kate Townsley (New Zealand) 15:54:13