News & Updates

7 September 2022 • Rotorua Marathon

Mayoral candidates enter Rotorua Marathon

Rotorua mayoral candidate Tania Tapsell is entering the half marathon event at the Rotorua Marathon later this month.

A pair of Rotorua mayoral candidates – Tania Tapsell and Ben Sandford – have a race of a different kind to run on Saturday 17 September when the pair don their trainers to take on the challenge of the Rotorua Marathon.

While the race to election day on 8 October will pre-dominate much of their thoughts in the coming weeks, the duo have targeted New Zealand’s most historic marathon as a welcome distraction from the daily stresses of running for Mayor.

Tania, 29, began her political career some 15 years ago as a member of the Rotorua Youth Council but it says much about her love of running that her passion for pounding the streets and trails predates her first foray into politics.

A former winner of the AIMS Games – the multi-sport festival for intermediate age kids – and Lake City AC she has many happy childhood memories as an athlete.

“Running was always a passion of mine,” she says. “I competed at New Zealand secondary schools champs and Colgate Games,” says Tania. “My preference was the 800m and 1500m but I got busy after I left school at 16 to study business, so I stopped running.”

However, it was after chatting to a group of mums while watching her stepson compete in athletics when she was encouraged to re-engage with running and joined the Lake City Marathon Clinic for inspiration.

The move has reinvigorated her passion and it was after the clinic suggested she start running local events the idea of competing in the Rotorua Half Marathon emerged.

“The Rotorua Marathon is such an iconic event, it was always one of my bucket list items,” she explains. “Being a member of a running group and having that support and a consistent training schedule has helped me feel like it is an achievable goal.”

A huge fan of running the Whakarewarewa Forest – where the majority of the 21.1km route will take place – is a big advantage but she has level-headed aspirations for what will be her first half marathon.

“I’m quite realistic and kind to myself and I’ve taken advice from other runners who said not to worry about the time and just to complete the race.”

Tania, who hopes one day to complete a full marathon, said running has led to many other benefits.

“It’s just been great not only for my physical health but also for my mental health. It is a great feeling to put on the sneakers and get out for a run in the forest – it gives you a real sense of accomplishment.”

As a three-time Olympian in the sport of skeleton bob, Ben Sandford is more familiar training with the physical demands of pushing a sled 30m down a steep icy track. However, Ben is also fulfilling a long-time desire to run the Rotorua Marathon as the 43-year-old takes on the 10km event.

“All my training for skeleton was sprint focused, it is very different to training for a 10km runner, so this is going to be an enormously different challenge for me,” he adds.

Ben says his father and other family members have run the Rotorua Marathon multiple times, so he is fully aware of the status of the race in his hometown where he was born and raised.

“It is so special because you get to run around the lake. The course in that sense is unique, it is not a run out and run back along the same stretch of road, it is a reasonably tough course with a rich history.”

Ben loves to run around Blue Lake or through the Redwoods and says he finds running “therapeutic” which allows him to “clear his mind”. However, running once or twice a week of distances of no more than 5km he has wisely opted for the 10km distance on his Rotorua Marathon.

So what are his expectations on the day?

“It would be nice to run the full 10km and not feel too sore afterwards,” he explains. “I aim to set off at a slow, steady pace and see how I goes. It would be nice to run under an hour.”

To enter the Rotorua Marathon with full marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5.5km options go here