Kiwi CurraNZ ambassadors Dan Jones (pictured, above and below) and Nancy Jiang proved their class in the Western States Endurance ‘100’ race in late June, one of the world's most gruelling, competitive ultra-marathons, held in the USA, a race won by our very own Ruth Croft last year.
In their first-ever attempts in a 100-mile (160km) ultra-marathon, Wellington-based Dan placed a magnificent fifth (15 hours, 22 minutes) and Nelson's Nancy finished 23rd (female) (23 hours 57 mins) in the 327-strong field, which attracted a stellar international line-up.
Dan was consistent throughout the race, holding 7-8th for most of the 100 miles and then climbing into 5th place before crossing the finish line.
Nancy similarly was consistent throughout the race, sitting in the top 20 before finishing 23rd.
Hayden Hawks, (pictured far right with the CurraNZ gang at WSER, along with fellow ambassadors Dan, Nancy and Stefanie Flippin) our US CurraNZ ambassador who placed second last year, sadly had to withdraw due to a knee problem after falling earlier in the race.
However, it has turned out to a blessing in disguise for Hayden, whose has since revealed that an x-ray and MRI diagnosed a bone spur which has providing him with on-off pain for years.
Hayden says: "I also have a stress fracture on that spur, which has been there for a while now and digging into the patellar tendon and causing a lot of irritation.
"The fall in the high country at Western States flared it up. I tried to fight through for many hours but the pain became unbearable and had to stop.
"The good news is it's a quick fix and easy surgery. I'll be back running within three-four weeks after the procedure in mid July. I'm excited to see the athlete I can become."
Fortunately for our other runners, Dan and Nancy (pictured below) had better fortunes in the race. The Kiwi duo were thrilled to earn their coveted 'Golden Tickets' to Western States when winning the 100km events at NZ’s premier ultra-marathon at Tarawera, in February.
Initially, Nancy was unsure whether she would take up the opportunity, however decided it was too good to pass up and accepted the invitation.
A notoriously difficult event to earn an entry for, Western States is the oldest ultra-marathon in the world, having been inaugurated in 1973. Held in California in extreme temperatures this year, with snow at elevations and soaring temperatures in the latter parts of the race, half of the event is run in darkness, with a 30-hour cut off deadline.
Tom Evans became the first Brit to win the event, clocking the fourth fastest time in course history, whilst Courtney Dewaulter smashed the women’s course record by 78 minutes with a new record of 15:29:33.
Congratulations to the Kiwis, who once again showed the strength of New Zealand talent against red-hot international competition - and proudly assisted by CurraNZ.