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Red Stag Rotorua Marathon All Set For Historic 60th Anniversary Edition

Three-time Rotorua Marathon winner Michael Voss. Credit: Alisha Lovrich

The 60th anniversary edition of the 2024 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon is set to attract around 5000 entries as New Zealand’s most iconic marathon is poised to mark the special occasion with a celebratory experience across the six-event programme (Friday-Saturday 3-4 May).

Since 16 men set out for the inaugural Rotorua Marathon in 1965 the event – which encompasses a lap of Lake Rotorua – has developed into New Zealand’s most historic marathon as thousands have been attracted by the lure of completing a “Lap of the Lake.”

Leading the contenders for the full marathon – which also feature the New Zealand senior and masters Marathon Championships - is local hero Michael Voss, who is bidding for a fourth race win following victories in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The 27-year-old Lake City athlete is relishing the prospect of once again lining up in the race, where he will be chasing a sixth successive podium finish.

“I always look forward to the Rotorua Marathon,” says Voss. “It is a tough course but aware of the rich history of the event and the fact I will have many friends participating makes it stand out from the other races.

“The hype levels are even higher this year at the 60th anniversary event and with a national title on the line too I would love to grab the win! The aim is to get to 30km, feel good and be in with a shot of victory.

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“As a local I will have many friends and family supporting me and offering encouragement out on the course, so to win in front of them would be very special.”

The women’s elite race is led by Perth-based Wairarapa-raised mum-of-three Debbie Donald who in March produced an impressive run to set a PB of 2:40:39 in the Nagoya Marathon in Japan. Also entered is 2:38:33 marathoner Lydia O’Donnell, the co-founder and CEO of Femmi, who is relishing the prospect of competing in Rotorua.

Australian-based O’Donnell, a former New Zealand 5000m, 10,000m and half marathon champion, said: “It is awesome to be running a marathon so close to where my parents live in Tauranga. As a schoolgirl I used to compete in the Ekiden Relay around the lake as part of a team and it is an exciting prospect to be able to run the full marathon around the lake.

“I haven’t run a marathon for a couple of years, but I’m looking forward to testing the waters. I don’t have high expectations, but I would like to run well.”

Besides the full marathon other events taking place on Sunday morning include the Combes Johnston BMW Half Marathon – which takes place on a new course – the Go Media 10km and the First Credit Union 5.5km.

Among those entered for the latter race is inspirational centenarian Colin Thorne. The 100-year-old from Whangarei has completed 22 full Rotorua Marathons – the last coming ten years ago at the 50th anniversary event.

Still exercising six times a week and a regular at Parkruns on Saturday he plans to complete the 5.5km distance walking alongside his daughter, Pauline Dinsdale, and son-in-law Rob.

Yet while the great, great grandfather has modest goals for this year’s race he insists: “Hopefully, I will encourage others to get off their backside and go out for a run, that’s what I’d love to see.”

Others entered in the 2024 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon include the Hits Drive DJ’s Matty McLean and Polly “PJ” Harding – who will have the luxury of being transported via a BMW to the start of

their race as the pair battle it out for bragging rights.

The two-day programme will also feature the first edition of the Novotel Lakefront Mile on Friday (3 May) – which will comprise a Kids Mile, People’s Mile and the New Zealand Road Mile Championship events.

The 2024 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon programme will climax with the innovative Runway 5 – a 5km event which will take place under lights at Rotorua Airport. With a live band present and DJ spinning your favourite tunes, the event promises to provide a unique experience for those entered in the People’s Runway or the inaugural New Zealand 5km Road Championships.

Other exciting innovations planned for a special weekend include the OOFOS Recovery Zone – which will provide athletes and spectators a full-service lounge to include ice baths, stretching station, massage, physiotherapy, compression boots, massage guns and OOFOS recovery shoes.

Note, online entries are now closed. However, you can still enter any of our six events in-person at registration and the Expo between 3-8pm Friday (3 May) and Saturday (4 May) between 6.30-8am.

Full timetable of races

Friday 3 May

Novotel Lakefront Mile

7.20pm – Kids Mile

7.35pm – The People’s Social Mile

8.00pm – *Men’s competitive mile

8.10pm - *Women’s competitive mile

*Featuring the NZ Road Mile Championship

Saturday 4 May

8am – Full Marathon

8am - Combes Johnston BMW Half Marathon

8.15am – Go Media 10km (Runners)

8.20am – Go Media 10km (Walkers)

8.30am – First Credit Union 5.5km

Runway 5

6.30pm People’s Runway5

7.30pm – *Elite/competitive men’s Runway5

7.35pm - *Elite/competition women’s Runway5

*Featuring the NZ 5km Road Championships.

© Scoop Media

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