A record 2000 people have signed up to run the Tarawera Ultramarathon in Rotorua next month, making it the biggest Tarawera race in its 11 years of existence (and entries are still open).
This record-number of entrants makes Tarawera the largest ultra run to ever take place in New Zealand and the race has also attracted some of the top names in the sport worldwide.
Courtney Dauwaulter (US), who recently made headlines by outrunning men to win the Moab 240 outright, in 2 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes, a whole 10 hours ahead of second place, is one of the elite athletes racing the event in Rotorua.
She will toe the start line alongside names like Camille Herron (US), who has more ultrarunning world records than we can list here, Ryan Sandes (SA), the first competitor to have won all four of the 4 Deserts races, and Jeff Browning (US) who last year crushed the Hardrock 100.
Other big names racing the event include Tim Freriks (US), Cody Reed (US), Sally McRae (US), Meghan Laws (US), Harry Jones (UK), Amanda Basham (US), and Sange Sherpa (Nepal), among others.
Big names of New Zealand ultrarunning will also be racing, including Grant Guise, the fastest Hardrocker from Christchurch, who will be racing the 100 miler, Fiona Hayvice, also running the 100 mile race, and Cecilia Flori, who will run the 102km.
"We are quite simply blown away at the response from athletes signing up for Tarawera this year. We knew, when sales during week one surpassed months of sales last year, that we were seeing something big happening but to be so far ahead and not even at race day
is truly exciting," race director Paul Charteris said.
"We are also seeing many first time Tarawera entrants and many of those are taking on the 50km distance to challenge themselves to go beyond the traditional marathon and prove they can do this. We will be out on course with them every step of the way."
The race attracts both males and females, with a nearly even split of 50:50 male and female runners currently signed up, proving trail running is not a male dominated sport.
A high number of people are tackling the race as their first ultramarathon, showing the trend towards endurance running beyond the tradition marathon is still on the rise. More than 800 runners will take on the 50km distance next month.
The race includes four different distances: a 20km adventure run, 50km, 100km and 100 mile races.