On Sunday March 1, after you've enjoyed a sleep in and a leisurely coffee, spare a thought for the volunteers out on course from 7am for the first event of another Crankworx week.

It's a long shift till 5pm at the Giant Toa Enduro presented by Camelbak.

That's okay, though. Volunteers are the heart and soul of many events that make Rotorua such a brilliant adventure destination and there's something very special about being part of these crews.

On February 8, I supported my brother, David, at the Tarawera Ultramarathon.


Only the 21km course from Blue Lake/Tikitapu through the Whakarewarewa Forest, SCION and round Sulphur Point to the Village Green. However, he is 72 and was 2nd in the men's 70-79 category.

His first time at an event of this size and he spent the entire weekend with his jaw dropping at the scope of the logistics and organisation, the pōwhiri at Te Puia and the astonishing times of the leaders of the longer courses, 50km, 102km and 100-miler, as well as having selfies with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson.

Most impressive were all the volunteers, their supportiveness and cheerfulness, especially working on the 100-miler which runs through the night and until 4pm on Sunday.

The history of the Tarawera Ultramarathon is a remarkable one – from 67 runners, the first year in 2009, to around 3000 in 2020.

The race was the original vision of Paul Charteris – not sure he quite foresaw how big it would grow and how prestigious and must-do it has become, locally, nationally and internationally with a very high percentage of the entries from out of town and from 59 different countries, this year.

Early on Sunday afternoon, David joined me at the band rotunda in Government Gardens for the free Summer Concert in the Park.

First up were the Blues Busters featuring friends of mine doing a 40 minute set of classics to a big, enthusiastic crowd.

The bands play for free. More volunteers making our community a better place, bringing benefits, economically or, simply, happiness and entertainment.


Like so many other events in town, the Ultramarathon and these free concerts are supported by the Rotorua Lakes Council. Large and little, both enhancing our place.

Crankworx, too.

From March 1 to 8, there is a range of events that anyone who wants to see spectacular, breath-taking, gravity-defying action will enjoy.

Kidsworx keeps getting bigger and better giving the groms more chances to show their stuff and hang out with the pros.

Canon Deep Summer Photo Competition winner at Crankworx Rotorua 2019. Photo / Jim Topliss
Canon Deep Summer Photo Competition winner at Crankworx Rotorua 2019. Photo / Jim Topliss

There are other exciting developments for 2020. A new dual slalom course has been constructed on the Rotohokahoka Trust block next to Skyline by Adam King and Chris Martin aka Empire of Dirt (more from them on that next week).

And the Canon Deep Summer Photo Competition presented by Regent of Rotorua is on-site for the first time at Skyline's Hidden Forest Venue on the slopes of Mount Ngongotahā (and only accessible by gondola and luge) on Friday, March 6, after another momentous day of competition on the hill.

Last year's overall winner of Deep Summer was Jim Topliss. Some of his winning images feature bikes, trails and a dog – three of my favourite things.

The full Crankworx programme and online ticket sales are at www.crankworx.com/festival/rotorua/