Almost 3,000 Runners Ready

11 February 2021

Runners from across New Zealand will take to the trails around Rotorua this weekend for the 13th edition of the Tarawera Ultramarathon.

Approximately 3,000 runners are preparing to take part in New Zealand’s largest trail running event, with race distances of 21km, 50km, 102km or 100-Miles.

Race Director Sam Ellis said that the team was looking forward to welcoming runners back to the region this weekend.

“The Tarawera Ultramarathon is an incredible community event that the Rotorua region has embraced over the last 13 years and we can’t wait to see almost 3,000 runners hit the trails this weekend,” said Ellis. “With international borders still closed we’re thrilled with the support the event has received from New Zealanders, with runners traveling from across the country to take part.

“To put on the event we have more than 600 volunteers joining us, assisting across a range of roles, and we thank them for their ongoing support,” he said. “This event wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of the local Iwi, landowners and Council and we’re grateful that they continue to be a part of the Tarawera Ultramarathon community.

“The event includes four different race distances which provides an option for everyone, from those who are new to trail running and getting a taste of the event with the 21km, right up to those taking on the incredible challenge of the 100-Miler,” he said. “I look forward to seeing them all on the start line of Saturday and then welcoming them home across the weekend.”

The 102km event is a part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, with Ruth Croft returning home to take part in the event for the first time since 2017.

“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,” said Croft. “I’m very grateful that we could get back to New Zealand and that we’re able to race as well.”

Croft will line up in the 102km race alongside the likes of Michael Voss, Simon Cochrane, Fabe Downs, Jo Gallagher and Will O’Connor.

The 100-Miler event is both a physical and mental challenge, with former Professional IRONMAN Carl Read looking forward to being able to race again following the uncertainties of the last year.

“Over the last year COVID has thrown the entire world a huge curveball and unfortunately those top guys from all over the world can’t get here but it’s a real good chance for Kiwis to get amongst a local race, support all the guys down in Tarawera and enjoy a great part of New Zealand,” said Read. “That’s something that I think a lot of Kiwis have done over the summer, get involved with events all over the country because we’ve been able to. There’s places in New Zealand that I’ve never been to but hearing from people who have travelled around you think why aren’t I exploring New Zealand more.”

Joining Read in the 100-Miler field are runners including Fiona Hayvice, Doug Moore, Dawn Tuffery, Matt Urbanski and Katie Wright.

With international travel currently not possible New Zealanders have embraced the event, with a 43% increase in local entrants on last year. All four distances have seen an increase in local participants for 2021, highlighted by a 135% increase in entries for the 100-Miler race.

The event has been well supported by participants from outside of the local community, with Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton the regions with the most entrants.

More than 60% of those taking part in the Tarawera Ultramarathon will be doing so for the first time, as the sport continues to grow across the country.