Ruth Croft is one of the biggest names in the world of trail running, with the New Zealander back on home soil and preparing to line up for this weekend’s Tarawera Ultramarathon.
Croft will return to the Tarawera Ultramarathon for the first time since 2017, with the 32-year-old set to contest the 102km race, a part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back and racing in New Zealand again and having a race that is going on as normal, which wasn’t happening in Europe,” said Croft. “There has been a lot of uncertainty over the last year which everyone has faced, you start training for a race and then that gets cancelled and you start focusing on another race and the same thing happens. I felt like last year with everything happening I didn’t find any good fitness so it was good to be home and be based in one place and have a race that you can guarantee at this stage that will go ahead.”
Croft, from Greymouth in the South Island of New Zealand, was last in action late in 2020, though her last event was anything but normal.
“The last race that I did was the Golden Trail Series, it was supposed to be in Argentina but changed to a four-day stage race on the Azores Islands in late October,” she said. “The race on the Azores was actually really competitive, the most competitive of the season. There was some racing happening in Europe but not as much, or with the same level of competition as normal, as a number of countries still had restrictions and there were a lot of health precautions on the events as well. It was certainly different to what everyone is used to.”
Croft has won some of the most prestigious and well-known races on the trail running calendar, including the last two 55km OCC by UTMB and two 42km Mont Blanc Marathons, she’s also had an eighth place on the road at the Seoul Marathon, which qualified her for the Marathon World Championships.
Awaiting Croft and her fellow competitors this weekend is either 21km, 50km, 102km or 100-miles through the trails surrounding Rotorua, with Croft keen to get back into the forest.
“My training has been going really well. It started back when I was in quarantine, I had a bit of break after my last race in Europe and we started base building in the hotel quarantine in Rotorua,” said Croft. “I got in quite a few kilometres around the carpark and since then I’ve been on the west coast of the South Island in my home town training on some of the great walks around here and it’s been going well.
“I’m looking forward to being back in the Redwoods and having that normal race experience. One of the reasons that we run is to share a day out on the trails with people and not have to socially distance or wear masks and be able to have finish line hugs,” she said. “I’m very grateful that we could get back to New Zealand and that we’re able to race as well.”
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.