What’s New for 2020?

Entries for 2020 Tarawera Ultra-Marathon open Wednesday 5 June, 11am NZT, with a stunning new event hub and finish line on Rotorua’s lake front planned to welcome competitors at the world-renowned trail running festival.

The event hub for the February 8, 2020 event will be located in the heart of the lakefront reserve, an area set for a $40 million redevelopment that is set to transform that part of the city and attract visitors and locals to the area.

Race Director Tim Day has been a part of the event in some way shape or form for all but two of its 12-year history, first as a competitor, then as a volunteer and more recently as a part owner and Race Director, a role he continues alongside new owners IRONMAN Oceania.

“We are very lucky in Rotorua that the provincial growth fund from the government, along with Rotorua Lakes Council is putting money into developing the infrastructure of our town. One of those key projects is the $40 million lakefront development project, one that will help turn this area into a key attraction when visiting the district, both for the locals but also visitors to the region.

“To have our finish and event hub right in the heart of that area on the lakefront is going to be a great way to bring what some might consider a fringe sport into the community and to the people. This is going to be an exciting development as many more people will get to see how special our competitors are and join us at the finish line celebrations.”

The event has steadily grown in stature with the local and international trail running community, with Day saying that reputation is set to further strengthen with improvements across all events, and the retention of the 100 Miler that will take competitors throughout much of the stunning topography of the region.

“The hundred-mile runners are fortunate enough to touch on nine lakes in the region and all the beautiful connecting forests. The beauty of our city is we get the chance to connect the forests and lakes with the geothermal activity. One of the responses from our athletes is how connected they feel to all of those environments and the culture and spirit of the region. Bringing the event into the heart of town will only help complete that story and experience for everyone involved.”

Day is especially pleased to see further investment and energy in the 100 Miler event, a decision that retains the Tarawera Ultra in elite international company, while still providing inspiration to the local or ‘amateur’ trail running community.

“It is such an aspirational event to consider, being out there for 24 to 36 hours running 100 miles, it can be a bit mind-boggling. For our running community to have that gold standard 100-mile event as part of New Zealand’s biggest trail running festival alongside the elite and international component of competitors, it is such a neat opportunity for everyday people from all over the world to enjoy that interaction and the challenge of such a truly international event.”

The heart and soul of the Tarawera has always been its spirit and community engagement, something Day says is set to continue long into the future, building on the incredible platform and relationships built by himself and previous owner Paul Charteris, who also continues working on the event he created 12 years ago.

“The Tarawera Ultra would be impossible to deliver without the support and engagement of the local community, stakeholders and land-owners. Paul and I have lived and breathed this event and will continue to do so in our roles with IRONMAN. But we knew we needed that expertise from the IRONMAN team to take the Tarawera Ultra to the next level, our motivation behind that was always to do the best thing for the event and the trail running community, the additional expertise will do that, without losing sight of the community element that is at the heart of this event.”

Another change to the event sees the 21km event now joining all other events in being run on Saturday, making it easier on families, work and school commitments as they plan their Tarawera Ultra Marathon weekend.

Day says the variety of events means there is something for everyone at Tarawera Ultra, with a wide appeal to people of all backgrounds and abilities.

“As the event has evolved over the years, we have introduced shorter events. The 50km ultra has in some way become what was the marathon – 50km on a trail in natural spaces, not beating yourself up on the road, has become a popular distance and event for people. It’s a chance for people to get out of the increasingly urban life we live, challenge themselves and reconnect with nature.

“And the half marathon distance is a little trickier than on the road with the trails and some ups and downs, but the way that event is laid out is there are no time limits – you can be as competitive as you like or get a bunch of friends together and walk the event and get out into nature, you can have a picnic along the way if you want!”

Day has no doubt the courses will again prove hugely appealing to competitors.

“The finish line hub moving into the Lakefront adds about a kilometre to all the previous courses, so we have made some tweaks. The 100 mile and 100km courses are essentially the same flavor as previous years, internationally renowned as being highly runnable and forgiving surfaces that will allow you to run a PB at Tarawera. Those friendly courses are matched by the friendly aid stations and community around the event, Kiwis are known for our welcoming nature and our race carries those values.”

“The 50km will be similar in flavor to the other events, with some exciting changes to how we deliver it. It will be forests, lakes and single trails, and similar elevation to previous years, but we are working through the final details of the course to make sure it flows well with the likely volume of people.

“The 21km follows the last part of the other longer courses into the new finish line hub at the lakefront. The experience will be the same as for the longer races, you just don’t have to run or walk as far!”

Key features of the 2020 Tarawera Ultra

  • Event date is February 8, 2020, with all events starting on the Saturday, with the 100 Miler and 102km events seeing finishers throughout Saturday and into Sunday at the new finish line
  • All events will finish at the new event hub on the lakefront
  • The 100 Miler and 102km courses are largely unchanged, with the 100 Miler starting at Te Puia in what is sure to be a magical and spiritual experience for all.
  • An exciting new 50km course will be revealed in the weeks ahead.
  • Course maps for the 100 Miler, 102km and 21km events will be online today.
  • The event weekend ties in with Waitangi Day on Thursday, so it will be an amazing festival and long weekend for locals and international visitors, with locals able to consider taking the Friday off to create a four-day weekend.
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