Race prep is well under way, the course markings are going up, the race numbers are waiting and more than 1000 athletes are descending on Rotorua.

Tomorrow the 10th annual Tarawera Ultramarathon will see runners test their endurance across the 62km, 87km, 102km or newly introduced 162km (100 mile) course.

And for the first time the race will be brought right into the heart of the city, with the finish line being set up at the Government Gardens.

The 100 Mile Endurance Run will be the first race to start at 4am, with 140 runners taking part.


Read more: Rotorua ultra runner taking on her biggest challenge yet
Opinion: Ultra athletes show us nothing is impossible

"[The 100 mile race] includes eight lakes, amazing trails and forests, amazing geothermal character," said race director Tim Day.

The course was made possible with the permission of about 15 different landowners and property managers which means there is 40km of tracks that have never been used in any event.

"The lands we traverse in this race are sacred lands, Paul [Charteris] and I are totally honoured to be able to put on a race of this kind, we really are," Day said.

It was clear how much the cultural significance of the race meant to him as he teared up a little talking about how privileged he and his team were to host an event on land with such deep-rooted history.

"We are amazingly privileged, we're very lucky. I think the visitors get that and I can't wait," he said.

Related articles:

8 Feb, 2018 6:15am
4 minutes to read
3 Jan, 2018 6:00am
4 minutes to read
13 Dec, 2017 8:00am
3 minutes to read
28 Nov, 2017 8:00am
4 minutes to read

"We hope we're paying respect to that land. We're not in this to commercially gain from somebody else's place, we're here to celebrate what this place is about and hopefully create opportunity within our community - telling the cool stories about what was the birth place of tourism."

The event has grown massively from the first race, where 62 runners competed over 55km or 80km, to the 1350 runners taking part this weekend. Of those, 65 per cent are from overseas.

"We do an economic analysis as part of the event and based on historically what has happened with our event is all the runners bring, on average, two other people with them. So that's about 5000 people in town for the event."

He said the average stay of each visitor was four and a half days per person.

"So, you've literally got 20,000 bed nights and last year's analysis showed the average spend per day, per person, for the internationals was $660, including accommodation and meals and everything.

"I suspect the 100 miler people will be staying even longer because they have to prepare for longer and recover for longer afterwards. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with at least $10 million of genuinely new money into the local economy."

He said he had spoken to many people who were planning a six to eight week trip to New Zealand.

"It's a big enough race that they'll want to come out, prepare for a week, rest for a week, but then make it their big annual holiday as well."

Rotorua's Dafydd Malcolm is one of only four locals taking part in the 100 miler.

"I have run NZ Trail Runs events in the past and had expressed a keen interest in running a miler when they were ready to create their race.

"It takes a while to build up to a 160km race so the timing was about right."

Malcolm did not finish last year's 100km race as he had a stomach bug.

"I am keen to redeem myself," he said.

His wife Rebecca, son Alex, 8, and daughter Izzy, 5, will be racing him to each of the pit stops and will be there to meet him at the finish line.

Tarawera Ultramarathon 2018 races
Distance: 162.2km
Start: 4am at Government Gardens
Finish: Government Gardens
Cut off time: 36 hours

Distance: 102.4km
Start: 7am at Firmin Field, Kawerau
Finish: Government Gardens
Cut off time: 24hrs

Distance: 86.9km
Start: 7.30am at Tarawera Forest, Kawerau
Finish: Government Gardens
Cut off time: 23.5hrs

Distance: 62.7km
Start: 8am at Tarawera Falls
Finish: Government Gardens, Rotorua
Cut off time: 16hrs

Where you can view and cheer on the 100 mile runners
- Sala St or Froude St, Rotorua
- Te Puia southern carpark
- Waipa Mountain Bike Carpark
- Puarenga aid station, at the northern end of 8 Mile Road
- Tarawera Trail Carpark at Buried Village aid station
- Rerewhakaaitu aid station, Ashpit Rd camp site
For more information and to view the race maps visit www.taraweraultra.co.nz
Tips on staying safe
1. Say no to NSAIDs
- Ibuprofen, Nurofen, diclofenac, voltaren, naproxen – sure to cause trouble.
2. Drink to thirst
- Drink varied fluids, take on food during the race, have a varied intake.
3. Be prepared for the conditions
- Hot, cold, dry or wet – have a plan for a range of conditions.
4. The race doesn't end at the finish line
- Pack warm clothes and a range of food for basking in your success at the finish.
5. Look out for each other
- If you are concerned about any runner, please notify the medical team.