News & Updates

15 September 2023 • Rotorua Marathon

Entries open for historic 60th anniversary Rotorua Marathon

Entries are now open for the historic 60th anniversary Rotorua Marathon. Credit (Alisha Lovrich)

The Rotorua Marathon, the most iconic marathon in New Zealand, has opened entries for its historic 60th anniversary edition on Friday-Saturday 3-4 May, 2024.

First run in 1965 the event has since flourished and attracted tens of thousands of people to take on the unique 42.2km ‘lap of the lake’ course around Lake Rotorua.

Catering for runners and walkers of all levels the 60th anniversary event offers no less than six race options from the full marathon down to the mile distance across an attractive two-day programme, which includes a first-time event and a fast and exciting new course over the half marathon distance.

The 50th anniversary race in 2014 attracted more than 9000 participants and interest will be high once more for a very special edition of the Rotorua Marathon.

The two-day festival of running/walking is kick-started on Friday 3 May by the vibrant Lakefront Mile – which takes place on a specially designed light trail complete with DJ’s including kids’ events and will climax with the elite athletes chasing honours in the New Zealand Road Mile Championships.

Attention will then switch to the five events on Saturday 4 May led by the iconic Rotorua Marathon. Starting and finishing at the historic Government Gardens the route around Lake Rotorua will go past geothermal features including steam vents and mud pools as well as lakeside settlements – a stunning route for a marathon test. The 2024 event will also host the New Zealand Senior and Masters Marathon Championships.

A fresh challenge awaits those entrants looking to take on the Red Stag Timber Half Marathon, which has relocated to a point-to-point course on the second half of the full marathon course. Starting at Whangamarino School near Okere Falls, travelling along State Highway 33, to the finish line in the historic Government Gardens, the event is ideal for those taking on a new challenge or wanting to soak up the jubilant atmosphere of the lake without running the full marathon distance.

Other race options include the Go Media 10km – which winds through the volcanic Sulphur Flats and down Titokorangi Drive (Long Mile) next to the spectacular Redwoods within the Whakarewarewa Forest, before returning to finish at Government Gardens. Ideal to run, walk or jog with friends, family and workmates – a five-strong team can be assembled and entered for the price of four.

The First Credit Union 5.5km offers a melting pot of popular sights and breathtaking beauty, including the historic Government Gardens and famous geothermal Sulphur Flats. A perfect challenge for fundraising groups, families and anyone beginning their running journey.

The historic 60th anniversary Rotorua Marathon climaxes on Saturday night with the Runway 5 at Rotorua Airport. The 5km run or walk with separate events for social/recreational and competitive/elite participants will be set on a lightning-fast course in the moonlight with runway and other lighting enhancement, DJ and live music with pre and post event activities and festivities in the Rotorua Airport buildings.

The Rotorua Marathon is once again partnering with the Mokoia Island Trust, with all Runway5 entries contributing to ongoing Kiwi conservation on the island on Mokoia Island.

Athletics NZ Events Manager Jason Cameron said of the 60th anniversary event: “The Rotorua Marathon holds a special place in the hearts and minds of generations of Kiwis. We are super excited to be bringing you the 60th year of the grand event, especially with the addition of new contemporary offerings like the Lakefront Mile and Runway5, which will act as a fitting finale to an epic day. If you have been away a while or never experienced the Rotorua Marathon, you won’t want to miss the 60th edition.”

Among those set to enter the 60th anniversary race is the remarkable James Crosswell, who will be hoping to complete his 47th Rotorua Marathon next May.

Making his Rotorua Marathon debut in 1973 – the 74-year-old Opotiki-based plumber boasts has the second highest number of completed Rotorua Marathons behind the late Colin Smyth who racked up 50 and he is looking forward to once again completing “a lap of the lake.”

“The number of Rotorua Marathons I competed in only become a thing after my 25th Rotorua Marathon,” explains James, a grandfather of seven. “I just love coming back because of the course and it is nice to meet so many people that you have seen over the years.”

Still going out for training runs of up to 30km in preparation for the race, James is proud of his accomplishments and hopes to complete the 2024 race in around five and a quarter to five and a half hours.

For him the Rotorua Marathon is an integral part of his year, and he calls upon others to enter the 60th anniversary edition of the iconic race.

“I would encourage anyone to have a crack at it – all I would say is make sure you do the training and get your body used to being out there for a long time,” he added.

Entry details to all six events that feature as part of the 60th anniversary Rotorua Marathon here