Ronella Strickland, left, and Lisa Ardern are both competing in the Tarawera Ultramarathon. Photo / Stephen Parker 080219sp7.JPG

Ronella Strickland is happy to be a Tarawera wogger.

The Rotorua mum has been on a wellness journey for a little over a year and today takes on the Tarawera Marathon 50km race.

She will compete as a wogger – meaning she will cover the distance with a mix of walking and jogging.


Strickland's journey began with early morning walks and, while on one of those walks, came across Lisa Ardern on the snake track.

"Lisa quickly became my mentor and before I knew it, I had started Jogging the Powerpoles with her," Strickland said.

Jogging the Powerpoles is a winter training technique with members attending regular meetings in Rotorua.

It wasn't too long before Strickland was combining Jogging the Powerpoles with a few swims and 4.30am daily treks over the snake track.

"This journey was the best thing that could have happened to me. Before I started I hadn't ever engaged in physical activity and I wasn't happy with my physical appearance or how I was feeling about myself.

"Through exercise, I have learned how to appreciate myself and feel good within my own skin."

Today Strickland will put her year of training and experience from two earlier events to the test.

"I wouldn't have ever thought I'd be doing something like this and I probably never would have had it not been for the encouragement from Lisa and also Kerris Browne from Jogging the Powerpoles.


"I was not at all nervous before the race, just absolutely excited to be giving it a go."

Strickland hopes to finish the 50km race in about 12 hours.

Meanwhile, Rotorua doctor Richard Newbury expects to be out on the course for a bit longer.

Newbury is taking on the "miler" and don't let the title fool you – the race called the miler because it is 100 miles long – that's 160km of course to cover.

"I've done the 101km race three times but have stepped it up to the big one this year," Newbury said.

"The 101km race takes me between 13 and 14 hours but I'm expecting [hoping] to finish the miler between 26 and 30 hours which will see me cross the line at around daybreak."


Not only has Newbury been preparing mentally and physically for the race, but he has also been in the kitchen making his savoury snacks for the event.

"One thing I have become very aware of is the importance of nutrition and hydration when you're out there. I've got my sweet, savoury and salty snacks organised."

Newbury's partner is Olympic cyclist Jaime Nielsen and he admits she has been giving him a few pointers in the lead-up to today's race.

"She's been to the Rio and London Olympics and now, only months after having our daughter, she is back training in the hope of going to Tokyo.

"Jaime has taught me so much, especially how to approach things in the lead up to an event. She has also introduced me to some incredible training apps that have helped enormously with my training."

Newbury was also looking forward to today's race.


"Jaime and my daughter will be at a point 66km into the race [I'll only have another 100km to go] with ice cubes and words of encouragement."

Today is the 11th annual Tarawera Ultramarathon. The Ultramarathon has become New Zealand's most prestigious trail ultra with participants taking on either the 20km, 50km, 102km or the 100-mile endurance run.