Fiona Hayvice (NZL)

Wayne Botha, member of the IAU Communications Committee spoke with the remarkable New Zealand (NZL) 24hr representative Fiona Hayvice

IAU Athlete Interviews & News - Fiona Hayvice (NZL)

Wayne Botha, member of the IAU Communications Committee spoke with the remarkable New Zealand (NZL) 24hr representative Fiona Hayvice, following her 10th Tarawera Ultramarathon. She ran an impressive 100 Miler (165.2km (plus a 1.7km boat ride)) in 20hrs 20min 42sec, to place 2nd female by only 83sec!

Waybe Botha (WB): When did you start running Ultramarathons, and how did your running career begin?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): Running ultras started off quite spontaneously in 2010. The culprit was a Kiwi based in Shanghai, looking for fellow 'nutters' to run 250 kilometer self-supported, across the Gobi Desert in China. I saw an opening to travel to a corner of the world typically off limits to foreigners. So, with no worthy reason not to go, I jumped on the opportunity, and registered.

Heading out into the Gobi Desert I had no idea what I'd let myself in for, I was pretty naive. After enduring 7 days of blistering temperatures (upwards of 50 degrees), no showers, and sleeping on half of a flimsy bedroll (I’d reduced its size to ensure my backpack weighed as little as possible), I somewhat surprisingly returned home keen for more ultras. The sense of achievement was empowering. It's true that the greater the challenge the sweeter the reward.

In early 2011, I completed my first one-day ultra. I’d signed up for the Tarawera Ultramarathon 60km. However, I found myself having far too much fun, so my friend and I opted to carry on and completed the 85km.

After the birth of my son in 2012, I re-established my endurance by buggy-running at every opportunity. By 2015, I was approaching ultras competitively. I enlisted a coach, and this is when my running career really kicked off. In 2016, I won the Tarawera Ultramarathon 100km, represented New Zealand at the Trail World Championships in Portugal, and finished-up the year ranked 5th on the Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT) circuit.

By 2018, after 4 or so years of predominantly ultra-trail, I decided to try my hand at ultra-track. It turned out that I'm quite fond of running round and round in loops for a long time too!

Waybe Botha (WB): You are an accomplished trail, road and track runner. Do you have a preference for any particular running surface and do you think that running on all surfaces is beneficial to your training and performances?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): I guess I am (blushing). On the trail is where my running career took off, and if I was presented with a choice, trail would always be my first pick. That said, I wouldn’t turn down a road or track session or race. Each surface has its pros and cons. On the trails the uneven terrain and exposure to extreme weather conditions can pose challenges, yet moving through the irregular wildness, using a variety of muscle groups does wonders for my body and soul. On the other hand, the flatter, smoother nature of road and track typically means there are less variables, which allows you to set more defined goals. Eliminating vertical and uneven surfaces, allows you to make clear performance comparisons - I find this very motivating. Don’t they say, variety is the spice of life … I feel this applies to running - mixing up surfaces is beneficial for my body and mind.

Waybe Botha (WB): In what particular events have you represented NZ and do you have any stand out experiences?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): I've represented New Zealand six times; 2016 IAU Trail World Championships in Portugal, 2018 IAU 24Hr Oceania Asia Championships in Taiwan, 2019 IAU 24 Hour World Championships in France, 2020 Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra World Championship (NZ satellite event), and 2020 & 2021 IAU Global Solidarity Run in my hometown, Wellington NZ. Whilst I’m proud of all my appearances, the 2019 24 Hour World Champs stand out as I ran 210.134km (a PB of +8km and the most kilometers in the Kiwi team).

Waybe Botha (WB): You participated in the 2020 and 2021 IAU 6 hr Virtual Global Solidarity Run. Did these events help you with motivation during covid restrictions and how were you able to maintain momentum throughout this period?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): I discovered the wellbeing benefits of regular running whilst at high school, so it quickly became part of my day-to-day. Hence, the restrictions and event cancellations that we’ve experienced over the past 12 months haven’t really affected my motivation. In fact, during our initial main lockdown, my son and I were able to run together more often than when he’s attending school. Daily runs and/or bike rides together made training much more pleasurable. That said, I really enjoy the connection with the IAU community that the global solidarity runs have provided. And if the truth be known, as  soon as my watch started, so did my desire to run fast for 6 hours flat - my competitive streak hasn't disappeared!

Waybe Botha (WB): Where did you run the IAU 6hr Virtual Global Solidarity Run in 2020 and in March this year?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): In August 2020, our NZ covid restrictions allowed me to participate in the IAU 6 Hour Virtual Global Solidarity Run with two Wellington Scottish Athletics Club team mates; Emma Bassett and Emily Solsberg. We had a blast circumnavigating the coolest little capital in the world - Wellington, NZ. Starting in Eastbourne, we made our way to the CDB, around the Miramar Peninsula, passed the airport and then turned at the west road end (Te Kopahou Visitor Centre), before the 6 hour ‘whistle blew’ and we stopped in our tracks having logged +65km.

I was honoured to be selected for the Global Solidarity NZ team again this year. This time, four of us lapped a 400m athletics track. The teammate camaraderie and phenomenal trackside support from our running community, helped propel me to a total +68km. Bowel issues brought on by a viral infection hindered my performance, hence I fell short of my +72km goal. Nevermind, all the more reason to target another 6 hour.

Waybe Botha (WB): Do you have any other goals for 2021?

Fiona Hayvice (FH): A couple of weeks ago, I competed in New Zealand's Riverhead Backyard Ultra (6.7km within the hour, restarting on the hour ... until there's only ONE standing). Whilst I wasn’t the last person standing, I was the last woman after enduring 25 laps (167.50km) of exceedingly challenging, muddy conditions.  I vow to go back and try again next year!

In the meantime, Katie Wright (winner of the 2021 Tarawera Ultramarathon 100 Miler) and I are coordinating a 48 hour event for late July. We’ll be attempting to break our respective country's 48-hour records. For Katie the UK record of 366.512 km, and for me the NZ record of 326.541km. Of course, we'll also be keeping an eye on the women's World record of 397.103km.

The IAU would like to thank you and all of the New Zealand team for your ongoing participation in IAU events, and wish you all the very best with your future goals!


Wayne Botha

IAU Communication Committee


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