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Ring of Fire Heats Up

Ring of Fire Heats Up

This Saturday, Mt Ruapehu will be lit up by a circle of headlamps as 628 runners, including 37 from overseas representing 7 countries, compete in the inaugural Ruapehu Ring of Fire.

The event features a 72km circumnavigation of Mt Ruapehu, starting and finishing at the historic Chateau Tongariro. With a bone-chilling 4am start, 178 ultra-distance runners will soon warm up on the round-the-mountain track on the start of their journey which is a shade under two marathons long. If that’s not enough, the course has three and a half vertical kilometres of climbing.

There’s also a slightly more ‘sedate’ 50km run which starts from the Turoa ski field and finishes back at the Chateau Tongariro. The most popular option is the three-person relay with each member covering just over 20km.

For Event Manager Nick Reader, it’s the culmination of a two-year build up. Everything about ROF is momentous he says; “the mountain, the scenery and the physical battle runners will be putting themselves through.”

Most runners are expected to take more than 15 hours to complete the epic 72k circuit says Reader. We expect many to finish after dark inside the iconic Chateau Tongariro Hotel and expect our last runner to come home at around midnight – after 20 hours in the field.

“Whilst it’s a breathtaking run in a national park and dual world heritage area – it’s definitely no stroll in the park”, he says with a wry smile.

Among the men expected to compete for the 72k title are on the Lithuanian speedster Andrius Ramonas, Chris Morrissey and Dennis de Monchy – both of Tauranga and Rhys Johnston from Auckland.

Many eyes will be on Sjors Corporaal – the many times champion of The Goat Adventure Run and Tussock Traverse in the volcanic relay with his son Kaya Corporaal and Coast to Coast 2 Day Champion Oliver Thompson. They are expected to be at the front of the field.

Event co-founder Jason Cameron says he expects the race will be a dingdong battle all the way to the finish line.

“And it’s not just elite athletes that take part in the world tour – it’s also the crazy everyday runners who make a holiday out of their mountain circumnavigation ambitions. They’re the ones that make our event so special,” says Cameron.

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said that the Ruapehu District Council in conjunction with Visit Ruapehu were really excited about having a new iconic international sporting event for the Ruapehu region.

“With its strong conservation values and commitment to respecting the cultural heritage of the area the Ruapehu Ring of Fire Ultra, Marathon and Relay is the perfect fit for the dual World Heritage status Tongariro National Park.

We look forward to welcoming participants and their supporters to Ruapehu in what will be a truly unique New Zealand experience,” said Mayor Cameron.

Ring of Fire traces back to a rich history of mountain running in the Tongariro National Park. The Goat and the Tussock Traverse have been popular fixtures on the trail running circuit for a more than a decade. This new event combines elements of both events.

The organisers recognise the special significance of this location to the people of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Hikairo, Ngati Uenuku and Ngati Rangi. It is a privilege to hold this event in such a special and beautiful area.

© Scoop Media

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