Trail runners prepare for Tarawera marathon
The trails surrounding Rotorua are set to welcome almost 2500 runners from across New Zealand for next month’s 13th edition of the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
The iconic event, which is now New Zealand’s largest trail running event, will see runners take part in four races on Saturday 13 February, including 21km, 50km, 102km and 100-Miler distances.
Dave Beeche, Managing Director of The IRONMAN Group Oceania, organisers of the Tarawera Ultramarathon, says the event has received strong support from runners from across the country.
"We’re thrilled with the support we’ve received for the 2021 Tarawera Ultramarathon, with almost 2500 runners preparing to take on this great challenge.
"While it’s disappointing that we’re not able to welcome runners from around the world to the event in 2021, we can’t wait to see New Zealand’s top trail runners, and our wider trail running community, take to the course around Rotorua.
"This event wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of the local Iwi, landowners and Council and we’re thankful that they continue to be a part of the Tarawera Ultramarathon community.
"The last year has been incredibly challenging for people across the country and one thing that we’ve seen in recent months is a strong appetite from runners to take part in events like the Tarawera Ultramarathon," he says.
"I know I saw an increase in runners on the trails as we came out of lockdown and with more than 60 per cent of our runners taking part in the event for the first time it’s great to see so many people continue to remain active."
With international travel currently not possible New Zealanders have embraced the event, with a 43 per cent increase in local entrants on last year. All four distances have seen an increase in local participants for 2021, highlighted by a 135 per cent 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.
Race Director Sam Ellis says the event team was looking forward to welcoming runners back to the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
"The Tarawera Ultramarathon is an incredible event which brings together people from all walks of life who share a love of trail running," said Ellis. "With our four different race distances we’re in the great position to welcome people who are new to trail running and dipping their toe in with the 21km, right up to those taking on the incredible challenge of the 100-Miler.
"We also have an incredible age range of competitors, with our youngest runner just 16 and the oldest 83, trail running really is a sport that is open to everyone," he says.
"Regardless of the distance they take on, the Tarawera Ultramarathon is an event that will see every competitor test themselves to the limits. Everyone has their own story, and reasons, for taking on this challenge and I can’t wait see them all come across that finish line having achieved their goals."
The 102km is a part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour, with the 50km, 102km and 100-Miler offering qualifying spots at the UTMB, the world’s largest trail race.
The 102km and 100-Miler also offers qualifying spots at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race.