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RUN247 / Running News / Trail Running News / Tarawera Ultra Trail by UTMB 50km results 2024: Fielder hat-trick and Sparke’s dream debut

Tarawera Ultra Trail by UTMB 50km results 2024: Fielder hat-trick and Sparke’s dream debut

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on
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Rotorua-raised Caitlin Fielder took out her third Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB title as the home hope justified favouritism in the women’s 50km race by securing victory in a time of 4:01:41.

Fielder’s lead was never seriously troubled. Instead, she battled herself throughout the race as she faced cramping issues, particularly on some of the uphill sections.

“I feel pretty good, but pretty happy it’s over to be honest,” said Fielder. “Sometimes you have races where you feel really good most of the time and sometimes it’s more of a character build and today was one of those. I didn’t feel great from the start but just slogged it out which is good to push through sometimes as well,” she said.

“It’s quite hard to tell exactly where you are in terms of other females so you have to pretend it’s just you and that’s really all you can do in races like this, just run your own race and wherever that puts you at the end you’ve just got to be comfortable with that,” she said.

“It becomes more and more difficult to cross the line first now as the race gets more and more competitive which is great for the sport, but it means a lot whenever you can get the win so I’m pretty stoked.”

British runner Kate Avery finished second, more than eight minutes behind Fielder, with New Zealand based American Robyn Lesh rounding out the female podium in third, another three minutes behind.

Dream debut for Sparke

In the men’s 50km race, Englishman Ronnie Sparke, making his Tarawera debut, claimed victory in 3:30:48, just less than four minutes ahead of Australia’s Charlie Hamilton in second, with Japan’s Yutaro Yokouchi a further four minutes behind in third.

“It’s unbelievable, I came here to win but to actually do it is surreal,” said Sparke. “I thought I could do it, but I knew there was some really tough competition, so it was kind of 50:50 coming in. I was just hanging with the pack, giving myself that chance and it worked out so I’m absolutely stoked.”

For more than half of the race, Sparke, Hamilton, Yokouchi and Kiwi Michael Voss were running side by side, with Sparke deciding to kick away from then second-placed Voss around the 30km mark and didn’t look back from there.

“My plan was to sit in the pack, sit behind and take it pretty easy even though the guys were going quick, I was trying to keep my breathing calm, but my legs knew I was going quick,” he said. “I was with those guys, there was a group of four of us for about 30km together, so we were just chatting and having a bit of a laugh and it was so much fun.”

Sparke’s Tarawera 50km victory was his first UTMB World Series win, ticking off a significant goal as his trail running journey continues to go from strength to strength.

“This win means the world. I’ve been running all my life, but I started trail running three or four years ago and then I’ve only really been racing for two years and it’s a been a successful two years, but to actually come out and win and with a clear lead, I feel like I’ve proved myself and I’m just looking forward now, ready to take it on and see where I can go,” said Sparke.

Ronnie Sparke (GBR) claimed his first UTMB World Series win with victory in the 50km race at Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB photo credit Graeme Murray
Ronnie Sparke takes the tape in Rotorua [Photo credit: Graeme Murray]

Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB is a qualifying race for the 2025 UTMB World Series Finals at UTMB Mont-Blanc, with the top three male and female elites in the Tarawera 50km having secured direct entry into the OCC (50km) race next year.

Garland makes her mark

In the 21km, the men’s race was won by New Zealand’s Michael Sutton in 1:28:45, with fellow Kiwi Liam Dooley second and British runner Robert Smith third.

The women’s 21km race was won by Britain’s Beth Garland in 1:41:20, who is in just her fourth week of living in New Zealand.

Garland and her partner – racing the 102km – signed up for Tarawera last October while still living in the UK, a decision she says she is stoked to have made.

“I loved it, the atmosphere was great all the way along and the trails were absolutely beautiful. Apart from the last two miles I can say that I enjoyed absolutely every bit of it, such a good event,” said Garland.

“In the first mile we sorted ourselves out and there was a girl just ahead of me and so tried to catch her up, we ran together for a little bit and then went forward and then from that point I knew I was in the lead and then I was just trying to pick the guys off as a bit of motivation.

Caitlin Fielder (NZL) won her third Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB 50km title photo credit Graeme Murray
Caitlin Fielder won her third Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB 50km title [Photo credit: Graeme Murray]

Tarawera Ultra-Trail, New Zealand – Saturday 17th February 2024

T50 RESULTS – WOMEN

  1. Caitlin Fielder (NZL) – 4:01:41
  2. Kate Avery (GBR) – 4:09:58
  3. Robyn Lesh (USA) – 4:13:31

T50 RESULTS – MEN

  1. Ronnie Sparke (GBR) – 3:30:48
  2. Charlie Hamilton (AUS) – 3:34:36
  3. Yutaro Yokouchi (JPN) – 3:38:19

T21 RESULTS – MEN

  1. Michael Sutton (NZL) – 01:28:45
  2. Liam Dooley (NZL) – 01:29:38
  3. Robert Smith (GBR) – 1:30:24

T21 RESULTS – WOMEN

  1. Beth Garland (GBR) – 1:41:20
  2. Jessica Ronan (AUS) – 1:48:31
  3. Rach Peters (USA) – 1:50:28
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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