ULTRA RUNNER HAYDEN HAWKS TARGETING WIN AT TARAWERA ULTRAMARATHON
Professional ultrarunner Hayden Hawks will line up for the 102km race at the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB as the hot favourite to take the title on Saturday 11 February.
The American, who hails from Utah, is a prominent athlete in the world of trail running, with a score of major race wins including the first trail ultra he entered, the Speed Goat 50km, in 2016, the JFK Mile in a course record in 2020, Black Canyons Ultra 100km 2020, and UTMB CCC (100km) in 2017 in a course record. He also finished second last year at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race.
Hawks will be making his Tarawera Ultramarathon (TUM) debut, a race he’s been looking forward to one day competing in after watching old YouTube videos of big-name trail runners racing at the event, including the likes of Sage Canaday, Dylan Bowman, Jim Walmsley, Courtney Dauwalter and Tom Evans.
“This will be my first-time running TUM. I have wanted to run this race since I started my ultrarunning career in 2016,” said Hawks. “I love competitive racing and this race is one of the most prestigious and competitive races consistently every year. I am excited to be a part of that history and to finally make it over to the beautiful land of New Zealand,” he said.
“I am most looking forward to running fast at TUM. It is a fast course, fast competition, and fits my style of racing. I am excited to run as fast as I can on this course and have a great day out. It’s always fun to push your body to the limits, see what you can do, and suffer a little in a barn burner.”
The 31-year-old heads into this race off the back of a win over 100km at Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko by UTMB in December. Hawks has been training in New Zealand over the summer and although his preparation was interrupted by illness, he says he’s feeling ready to go all out for the win in Rotorua.
“I’m feeling strong, healthy, and fit going into Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km. Even though my training block was not perfect, when I got sick coming over to New Zealand after racing Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko 100km in Australia in December, it’s been sufficient and the last three 200km weeks have been great and spot on. If anything getting sick might of been good, as it slowed me down and helped me potentially recover better after Kosciuszko. I have learned to focus on what I can control and not what I can’t control. I feel more fit going into Tarawera than Kosciuszko, so that is a good sign,” said Hawks.
“I believe I can win any race I sign up for. I work hard and prepare myself for every race I sign up for. I feel prepared going into TUM and it’s my kind of course. I believe that if I execute how I need to and run a smart race, I can win. We will see though, it’s ultra running and you have to respect the distance, course, and competition,” he said.
While preparing for the race in New Zealand Hawks has been training alongside Kiwi runner Daniel Jones, who had a stellar 2022 with multiple trail and road race wins including the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Marathon twice, New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Queenstown Marathon, and Kepler Challenge twice.
Hawks says the relationship between the pair started last year in the United States when he invited Jones over to train with him at his home in Cedar City.
“We had a great two weeks training in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the mountains in Utah. We quickly built a lasting friendship built around our love for running, hunting, fishing, and everything outdoors. Dan invited me to come train with him in his home of New Zealand and I quickly accepted that invitation. We have now been training for the last three to four weeks and have had a great training block. We have learned a lot from each other through training and have pushed off of each other’s energy and motivation.” he said.
Jones will also be competing in the 102km race at the Tarawera Ultramarathon and will provide strong competition for the American – though there might be some joint tactics to watch out for with Jones targeting Western States qualification, achieved by a top two finish in the 102km.
“Dan is incredibly talented and works harder than anyone I know. He’s a good dude and can’t wait to see him execute a great race at TUM. Not only do I have a goal to win this race, but also have a goal to help Dan secure a golden ticket to Western States, so we can both be there and potentially have another training block leading into that race back in the USA. This is what I love so much about this sport, so much of it is about the relationships you build, the friendships you make, and sharing these experiences with others. This is ultra trail running,” said Hawks.
While the training partners will battle it out for the win at the Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km race, there’s no doubting that Hawks wants to finish on top.
“It would be amazing to win TUM102. It would be a great start to my season and accomplish a goal that I have had for years. This race has been on the list for years. It would also be cool to cap off my time down here in Oceania with another win,” said Hawks.
“My parents are flying in to watch this race and visit the area. I owe a lot to them and love it when they come watch me race. I love it when I am able to show my gratitude for them with a victory. Outside of the victory I really hope to have a good time amongst the trail running community down here in New Zealand, see more of this beautiful area, and enjoy the event and atmosphere with my wife, kids, and parents. That is why I race and work so hard.
“Me and my family have loved New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country with a special people, culture, and environment. My grandfather lived in New Zealand back in the day and always talked about this amazing land. As a child I would hear his stories and always wanted to get here. My interests were piqued even more with TUM and the friendships I have developed over the years with Kiwi legends Scotty Hawker, Ruth Croft, and Dan Jones. We are so happy we made the decision to spend a couple months down here and explore both the South and North Island. It’s been a wonderful experience and hope to cap it off with a great race,” he said.
For more information and to enter the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB visit: https://www.taraweraultra.co.nz