A new mad dash around Mt Ruapehu is expected to attract 800 athletes including a strong international field when it takes off in April next year.
After over 18 months planning, the inaugural Ruapehu Ring of Fire Volcanic Relay, Solo Ultra and Marathon has been announced for April 7, 2018, with entries opening on July 10 this year.
Based from the Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa Village inside the Tongariro National Park, the race have received support from local Iwi including Ngati Hikairo, Ngati Uenuku and Ngati Rangi.
Following on from the annual Goat Tongariro and Tussock Traverse races, the Ring of Fire is a creation of The Event Collective - a collaboration of adventure directors Jason Cameron, Nick Reader, Tim Day and Paul Charteris.
"Having organised events in the region since 2004, the Ruapehu Ring of Fire event will be the most challenging and exciting event we have been involved with in the park," said Cameron.
"We are committed to developing this into a world renowned event for Ruapehu and New Zealand.
"We are looking forward to working with local Iwi and other community groups to make this an authentic and memorable experience for international and national visitors alike."
The three divisions of racing will include the 72km three leg relay, the toughest 72km solo ultra, and the 45km adventure marathon.
The longer relay and solo ultra events will involve a full circumnavigation of Mt Ruapehu on the iconic Round the Mountain track, starting and finishing at Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron said the district council and Visit Ruapehu were both excited about the opportunity to be involved with "what we believe will become an iconic international signature-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 where the event will take place.
"We look forward to welcoming participants and their supporters to Ruapehu in April 2018 in what will be a truly unique New Zealand experience."
The Event Collective will begin overseas promotion for their race this weekend at the Ultra Trail Australia event, being staged in the Blue Mountains near Sydney.
Entries open at 9am on July 10 online at www.rof.co.nz.