Thousands will be "glowing in their achievements" after more than 3000 people took part in the iconic Rotorua Marathon.

Participants hugged, high-fived and even danced over the finish line to the cheers of spectators lining the finishing straight on Saturday.

And Rotorua came to the party with stunning weather, despite a chilly start to the morning.

As well as the full marathon around Lake Rotorua, there was also a half-marathon, a quarter-marathon and a 5.5km run.


Each category was sent off to the sound of Te Arawa kapa haka performers.

Trevor Maxwell, cultural ambassador for the Rotorua Lakes Council, said it was a great morning.

"The Te Arawa performers have been doing this for 10 years. It's a way to make visitors and locals feel a good spirit. It's unique to Rotorua."

Brett Addison, communications manager at Athletics New Zealand, said 3005 people started the 53rd Rotorua Marathon on Saturday morning.

"There were about 1100 marathon runners, and 1200 entered the half running and walking. 200 people were from overseas, we had 37 runners from Japan and 26 from Australia. Twenty-two countries were represented."

Mr Addison said Japan would be going home happy, with Saeki Makino taking home the men's marathon top place and women's marathon gold going to Yuki Ogawa.

"The weather couldn't have been better, even though some runners early on found it a bit chilly, it meant it was not too hot later."

He said some people would be feeling reasonably uncomfortable at present, but in a few hours they would be glowing in their achievements.


Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was at the finish line, and returned for the prizegiving at 5pm.

"Conditions are perfect. What a day, it's a fabulous local event."

Mrs Chadwick was impressed by the men's marathon winner, Saeki Makino, who finished strongly.

"He just streaked in, like a comet on fire. But everyone has done amazing, and there are so many kids out there."

Kiwi and international competitors alike praised the race organisers and the terrific weather conditions.

Reporoa woman Sarah Martelli, who was raising money on a Givealittle page for the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation due to her own cancer journey, said her half-marathon race was good, but she did struggle.

"I'm pleased it's over. The last 5km or so was not easy. I had to dig deep and push through. I just thought about all the people who supported me and wished me good luck."

Mrs Martelli said she did the course in 2hr 24m.

"It wasn't about the time, it was the fact I was able to run it at all."

It was a "lovely day" for fellow locals Maureen Rolfe, 69, and Robyn Bishop, 74.

They walked the half-marathon, with Mrs Rolfe wearing a T-shirt in memory of Rotorua Marathon icon Colin Smyth who passed away in 2015 at the age of 76.

"His wife Pat is doing the full marathon with her grandson."

Heath Murdoch from Wellington completed his 75th half-marathon.

"It's an iconic event and well-organised, beautiful day too."

Austrian exchange student Maxmilian Fischer, 16, came over from Whakatane to race in the half-marathon.

"It was awesome, a great day. I did the race in 1hr 38min. I like running, it's a hobby of mine."

Volunteers were essential to the success of the Rotorua Marathon, with the numbers in the hundreds, Mr Addison said.

"They are incredibly important, we couldn't do this event without them."

Volunteer Diane Barrett-Kendall was at the finish line.

"I've done it a couple of times because I was a runner for years. It's just nice to help out...we make sure they're ok, remind them to put on warm clothes, whatever is necessary to make sure they are fine."

Local Russel Dale was one of the bike escorts provided for the leading three men and three women.

"It's my third time helping. Rotorua has turned on a brilliant day."

Out in Ngongotaha, locals cheered on competitors as they went through.

Having found a spot at the Ngongotaha shops, Lisa Bidois said she came down every year and had been since she was a child.

"I used to come down with my parents and support... it costs nothing to clap for people who deserve it. It's a beautiful day for it."

And they're off!!! Good luck everyone in this year's Rotorua Marathon and short distance events!

Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Friday, 5 May 2017