For decades the Western Bay has been on the international map as an outstanding half ironman venue.

The flat terrain, inland harbour and ocean views, plus having the iconic Mauao to run around, made it one of the most popular venues to contest the 21.1km distance.

But the area has never hosted a marathon over the full 42.2km distance until now.

Two years ago a determined group headed by Aaron Carter sat down to nut out how it could be achieved.


Carter, founder of Total Sport, which manages 18 events throughout New Zealand, could see the potential of the magnificent setting in the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui areas so began the process of putting all the intricate parts together.

Tomorrow morning all that work culminates with the inaugural Tauranga International Marathon.

Marketed under the catchy slogan of "fast, flat fun in NZ's sunshine capital", the marathon begins at 7am for runners and 7.05am for walkers on the waterfront in the Tauranga CBD.

The course winds its way around the Daisy Hardwick boardwalk and estuary section, then over to Mount Maunganui with a lap of the base track of Mauao. From there it is along the Marine Parade coastal highway to the finish at Gordon Spratt Reserve in Papamoa.

Carter says "it is going to be a really awesome event".

"It is the first event we have put on in Tauranga. It is all going really well, spearheaded by our events manager Kezia (Trask) who has done a wonderful job. Like any new event you have a few challenges to get yourself to the start line but all in all I am really looking forward to Saturday."

Right from the initial discussion stages two years ago the concept of the race was crystal clear to Carter and his team.

"We wanted to try and create something that took people on a journey through Tauranga's best places and spaces. We are really pleased we are taking people around and in to some awesome places along some beautiful waterfronts and around the Mount of course," he said.

"We were hoping to finish the event on the Strand in downtown Tauranga but that is not to be. We hope to finish there next year. We think people are really going to enjoy it. We wanted the course to be as flat as possible. We are excited about it. It is going to be cool."

Carter is already planning the 2018 Tauranga International Marathon before runners have begun this year's trailblazer.

"That is how you tend to operate in this game. You are looking ahead all the time - even looking to improve something that hasn't even happened. There will be major learnings from being there on the day and seeing how it goes, and then post-event feed that through the people who tend to make a lot of those decisions for you."

While the focus will be on the longer distance, there is also The Hits half marathon, quarter marathon and 6km run/walk events, plus a kids' dash.

The Tauranga International Marathon is partnered with Live More Awesome, a charity dedicated to helping raise awareness around mental health.