Forget about setting a goal finish time, just relax and enjoy some of the best scenery Rotorua has to offer.

That is the advice race director Tim Day gives to those taking part in tomorrow's Tarawera Trail Marathon & 50km which will see participants run or walk from Te Puia's Pohutu geyser to Hot Water Beach.

The event also offers shorter distances, which finish at Tikitapu (Blue Lake).

"We try to design our events to really highlight the cool things about this community. The 16km and 23km are obviously mostly about the Redwoods, the start at Te Puia and the finish at Tikitapu - it highlights some of those cool features.


"The marathon and 50km basically take the journey of the birthplace of tourism, from Te Puia, through the forest, through the Buried Village and out to Hot Water Beach, which is about as close as you can get to the Pink and White Terraces.

"Put a big smile on your face, expect the unexpected. Throw any time goals out the window, your time will be what it is, and make sure you take in where you are and appreciate that you get to do this. Celebrate the work you've done to make it to the start line and enjoy the experience.

"I'm interested to see who wins and I think it's amazing, the athletic ability of those winners, but I get my kicks out of seeing people from all walks of life get out there and have a go."

Last year organisers introduced the shorter 16km and 23km distances for the Tikitapu Trail Run, for which entries in 2017 have boomed.

"We've got about 1600 entries in total at the moment and there are just under 1000 in the 16km and 23km runs. Last year we had just over 300, so we've had three times the growth, and the really cool thing is when I look at the entry list, there are so many new names and new faces.

"It's genuinely an opportunity for people who might be a bit scared to get out into the Redwoods, or aren't familiar with it, to actually go and experience what trail running is all about. Trail running is up internationally, people are realising that being active and healthy is a good thing to do generally in their lives and it gets them away from the roads and the streets.

"The 16km run is far enough to be a challenge, but it's a nice introductory run. The 23km run is a real adventure. That's gnarly, off-track running - there's elements of hands and knees and climbing, it's a good challenge. For some people that 23km would be as hard as doing a road marathon."

Day said the event gave people something to train for and provided a sense of community.

"They might train with their best mates or a neighbour or whoever, so there's a real comraderie that goes with it. Our events have a reputation for being far more than just a run.

"We have 300 amazing volunteers for this event ... and they love the athletes, they really look after people. It's far more than just going for a run. The course changes every year, so there's always a few surprises.

"We take the emphasis off actually racing and it's very much about the experience."

He said it was important to acknowledge all the land owners, business owners, sponsors, volunteers and stakeholders who made the event possible.

"We don't take it for granted that we get to do this and neither should anyone else. We feel privileged and lucky and we want to honour that by making sure the experience people get is really wicked and safe."

Tarawera Trail Marathon & 50km/Tikitapu Trail Run start times
6.30am Marathon & 50km walkers + tortoise runners
7am 50km runners
7.30am Marathon runners
8am Tikitapu 23km runners & walkers
8.15am Tikitapu 16km runners & walkers