Ryan Sandes overcame a nutrient deficiency in the middle stages of the race to finish strongly and take fifth place in the Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km Trail Race in Rotarua, New Zealand yesterday.
Sandes recorded the fastest split for the final 14km to close on the leaders and moved into 5th position, but the gap was too large to challenge for the podium, with Sandes crossing the line in 8 hrs 55 min 45 sec, 30 minutes behind winner Reece Edwards from Australia.
“The race was quite rough,” admitted Sandes. “I took the first 40km quite easy as some of the guys were gung-ho at the start, going out at 3min 30 sec per kilometre pace! But I had a tough middle 20km, which messed up my race.
“I got super-hungry and light-headed and had to walk the final 3km into the aid station at 71km. I think I ate half the aid station and felt much better, finishing the final 25km feeling really good, which will give me confidence going into my big race of the year – the Western States 100 miler in June.”
When Sandes finally got into his stride he flew over the final stages, overtaking one of the race favourites, David Byrne of Australia, and closing two minutes on Edwards and five minutes on USA’s Charlie Ware, who placed fourth.
Another USA athlete, Jeff Browning, won the 100 mile event, overtaking his compatriot, and former Comrades Marathon winner, Camille Herron, in the final 40km in a dramatic battle of the sexes. Herron shattered the women’s record, placing second overall in 17:20:52.
Men: 1 Reece Edwards (Aus) 8:22:51; 2 Cody Reed (USA) 8:29:44; 3 Harry Jones (UK) 8:30:35; 4 Charlie Ware (USA) 8:34:00; 5 Ryan Sandes (RSA) 8:55:45
Women: 1 Courtney Dauwalter (USA) 9:28:03; 2 Stephanie Auston (Aus) 9:49:22; 3 Angelique Plaire (New Caledonia) 10:39:47