There are many aspects of the Tarawera Ultramarathon which make it a bucket-list event for trail runners all over the world.

One of the highlights is the atmosphere created at the finish line, which is based inside the Energy Events Centre this year. There is something truly special about seeing people from all walks of life cross the line and achieve their goals.

This year, more people than ever have the opportunity to experience that feeling with a 20km option, which was held yesterday, included in the event for the first time.

Among those completing the run was 10-year-old Flynn Healy, of South Auckland, who was one of the youngest participating. His mother Sarah Healy was visibly emotional as she embraced her son at the finish line, swelling with pride. A runner herself, she is registered for the 50km option today.


"It is so incredibly emotional, I'm so proud of him. I'm really excited for my run, I've been training really hard."

She enjoyed watching others finish the event as much as she enjoyed doing it herself.

"I was here last year as well, it's just a wonderful community event. What I love about this event is the community and the people just putting themselves out there and doing something they've never done before and being so overwhelmed with delight when they do it.

"The endorphin high after it is indescribable. When you're running, everyone you see on the track is helping you along. It's just magic."

Flynn said the run was "really fun" and he ran about three times a week to prepare.

"I've done 23km on Rangitoto before. I run because my mum always does running and I love running and running and running and running."

South Auckland's Sarah Healy congratulates her son Flynn Healy, 10, on completing the Tarawera Ultramarathon 20km run. Photo / Ben Fraser
South Auckland's Sarah Healy congratulates her son Flynn Healy, 10, on completing the Tarawera Ultramarathon 20km run. Photo / Ben Fraser

When asked if he ever beats his mum in races he grinned and said "sometimes".

Michelle Herrick, of Bethells Beach, also completed the 20km run and loved every minute.


"It was really good terrain, but so hot. I did the Rainbow Run in the Redwoods not long ago too, but this one is a bucket-list one, you have to do it. I'd like to do the 50km next year."

Herrick said the 20km option was ideal for those who wanted to participate in the Tarawera Ultra, but were not quite ready or willing to do the longer distances. She is a mother of four, including a 1-year-old, and said she runs for her sanity.

"It's just my thing."

Her aunty Sarah Sneddon, who only started participating in running events one year ago, flew from Sydney to do the 20km.

"I'm a Kiwi and I wanted to come and do this with my niece. I've always wanted to do it, it's a bucket-list event. The run today was awesome, I've only done this distance on a trail once before and I was about 25 minutes quicker," Sneddon said.

She said crossing the finish line was more special than at events she had done in Australia because this time her family was there to cheer her on.

"I've got my niece, she passed me at about 6km, plus my brother and his wife and my daughter. I'm really happy, it's very special. They came and saw me at the Blue Lake too, it's a big boost, I was a bit flat before then but that made me feel really good.

"I'd like to do the 50km next year, I'll be 60 next year so it will be a real challenge."

Today, the 50km, 102km and 100 mile (160km) runners and walkers are hitting the trails. Many will run through the night with prizegiving for all distances at 12pm tomorrow.