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Thousands Set To Descend On Rotorua Marathon

Runners and walkers of all abilities and experience levels are set to descend on one of the most beautiful parts of the country this weekend when the iconic Rotorua Marathon is held for the 57th time on Saturday.

With around 4,000 entrants expected to take part, it is set to be the most popular Rotorua Marathon since the 50th anniversary celebrations of seven years ago. The thousands of entrants will take on the challenge of either the full marathon, Red Stag Timber half marathon, Go Media 10km or 5.5km distances.

This year’s edition of the event – which is famous for its stunning scenery across the various race options around Lake Rotorua, the beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest, Sulphur Flats and Government Gardens – is of further note as, with the entirety of New Zealand now at alert level 1, entrants from all regions are able to take part.

And with the trans-Tasman travel bubble now open, a number of Australians are also coming from across the ditch to take on the challenge.

“The Rotorua Marathon is truly one of the most iconic and historic running events in New Zealand,” Athletics NZ CEO Peter Pfitzinger says.

“We are fortunate in this country to be able to host a mass participation event of this size as similar events in other parts of the world are still not being held or greatly impacted by the ongoing pandemic. So it is wonderful to see such high numbers taking part and we are delighted to welcome entrants from all regions, which wasn’t possible last year due to the restrictions on mass gatherings and travel,” he adds.

“It is also great to see some Australians take the opportunity to enter and we are looking forward to providing them with our Kiwi hospitality in Rotorua.”

The event is also hugely welcomed by the district with Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick saying it continues to attract thousands of visitors, as well as capturing the imagination of the locals.

“This event means a lot to our community, including our local businesses, so it’s really great that in today’s uncertain times we are able to host thousands of visitors from all around the country,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“The event has evolved over the years to become a very inclusive affair with everyone able to participate and I’m sure that’s another reason why people keep coming,” she adds.

“Rotorua locals love hosting this iconic event and will give all participants and their supporters a very warm welcome and plenty of support.”

The different race options will serve up a whole range of participants from octogenarian walkers and novice runners to experienced club members as they all take on the challenge of meeting a range of personal goals, from health and fitness reasons to raising money for dozens of charitable causes.

The event has again attracted plenty of elite quality with a number of high-class runners in the fields for both the marathon and Red Stag Timber half marathon.

Local Michael Voss will attempt to join a small but select band of men to successfully secure back-to-back Rotorua Marathon titles. Only three men in the long and storied history of the race have previously achieved a successful title defence – Jack Foster (1972-73), Paul Ballinger (1988-89) and Dale Warrander, who twice achieved the feat in 2004-05 and 2010-11.

Now the 24-year-old Rotorua-based Voss will attempt to add his name to this special group, having claimed a decisive victory in last September’s race (2:31:13). Voss, who boasts a lifetime best of 2:22:34, is clearly in good shape and last month carved 32 seconds from his half marathon PB, posting 1:05:09 for second in Christchurch.

Leading the opposition will be the versatile Jonathan Jackson, who last month was crowned New Zealand mountain running champion. The 30-year-old Aucklander has a strong marathon pedigree – twice placing third at the Rotorua Marathon (in 2015 and 2017) and second at the Auckland Marathon (in 2015 and 2016) – and, with a PB of 2:26:38, is another to be respected.

Another challenger could be Nick Browne. The 40-year-old veteran boasts a marathon PB of 2:26:37 and in March of last year ran a respectable 2:33:04 in Los Angeles. Also entered is fellow 40-year-old Ewan Sinclair, who last month ran a handy 2:33:48 to place seventh in the Christchurch Marathon.

Leading the contenders in the women’s marathon is Ingrid Cree, who will be hoping to upgrade on her third place at the 2020 Rotorua Marathon. The 38-year-old will enter the race full of confidence following her PB of 2:53:30 for third in last month’s Christchurch Marathon.

The 2020 Rotorua Marathon fourth-place finisher, Kovo MacDonald, is also entered.

Among the leading contenders in the Red Stag Timber half marathon is Sjors Corporaal, who finished second in last year’s 21.1km event. The 43-year-old is a vastly experienced performer, who placed second over the full marathon distance at the 2018 edition of the Rotorua Marathon.

Also competing over the half-marathon distance is Malcolm Hodge, who boasts a PB of 1:11:17.

The marathon starts on Saturday at 8am with the marathon walk underway at 8.05am. The starting gun will fire for the Red Stag Timber half marathon at 8.15am with the half marathon walk to follow at 8.20am. The 10km event for runners and walkers will begin at 8.35am with the 5.5km event underway at 9am.

Online entries close on Thursday but late entries can still be taken at registration, which takes place at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre on Friday between 2pm and 9pm and Saturday before 8am.

© Scoop Media

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