News & Updates

8 May 2023 • Rotorua Marathon

New look Red Stag Rotorua Marathon proves overwhelming success

More than 4500 people entered the seven events across the three-day Red Stag Rotorua Marathon programme. (Credit: Alisha Lovrich).

More than 4500 entrants defied the wet and windy weather to fondly embrace the seven events which featured as part the 59th year of the historic Red Stag Rotorua Marathon from Friday-Sunday 5-7 May.

Including three brand new events – the Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai, the RampRun and the Runway5 – alongside the traditional Red Stag Timber Marathon and Half Marathons, the Go Media 10km and the First Credit Union 5.5km, the event proved a smash as participants took on the respective challenges across the jam-packed three-day programme.

The 2023 edition was kick-started on Friday night with the Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai, which also included the inaugural New Zealand Road Mile Championships. The high-class senior races were won by Sam Tanner and Brigid Dennehy with the former describing the event as “exhilarating.”

“The whole experience superseded my expectations,” added Tanner, the all-time New Zealand 1500m number two. “The event created lots of excitement.”

The Red Stag Timber Marathon and Half Marathons, the Go Media 10km and the First Credit Union 5.5km took place on Saturday with inspirational stories at both the front and towards the back of the field. In the marathon races, Tokyo Olympian Malcolm Hicks claimed victory in the men’s race in 2:21:49 – the fastest winning time in the historic race for 22 years.

Meanwhile, Alice Mason, just nine months after giving birth to son, James, claimed a memorable record-equalling fourth win in the women’s race to match the accomplishment of Jillian Costley, a four-time champion from 1986-1992.

“While I don’t think it should be a challenge to race back after having a baby, it is cool to be able to compete once more and I’m proud to win so soon after giving birth,” said Mason. “It has been a tough journey.”

Towards the back of the pack the achievement of Verna Cook-Jackson to finish the 42.2km distance in 6:04:46 was no less worthy. For the 70-year-old Taupo-based woman it extended her race record number of finishes for a woman to 43rd and the fact she completed the race with her two sons – Danny and Glenn – made it an experience to cherish even more.

“To run the Rotorua Marathon is always special but to do so with my two boys was very special,’ she says. “In the wet and windy weather it could have been a torrid experience but with the laughs and the jokes we shared and the constant encouragement we gave one another it was a memorable six hours I’ll never forget.”  

The competition then switched to the Saturday night with a blur of colour and DJ tunes for the innovative RampRun in which competitors scaled the 400m up the Multi Storey Car Park in Pukuatua Street on four high octane races.

The Runway5 provided the climax of the 2023 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon on Sunday as competitors took on the 5km race on the Rotorua Airport runway. Sam Tanner claimed his second win of the weekend with Rebekah Greene, who had placed second in the New Zealand Road Mile Championships and RampRun on the preceding two days, taking out the women’s race.

Greene, the New Zealand track mile champion, thoroughly enjoyed the competition and added: “It was awesome, the RampRun was surprisingly hard on the body, a lot of fun and something different. Each event touched upon different training principles. We had the fast mile, the speed and strength work of the RampRun and the longer run on the Sunday. I feel like it was a good training and racing weekend. I will definitely come back next year.”

An under-12 Junior Mile event also took place which attracted 60 youngsters to coincide with World Athletics Kids’ Athletics Day.

The Runway5 also partnered with Kiwi Conservation on Mokoia Island, home to 30 breeding pairs of Kiwis and helped raise more than $1000.

Athletics NZ Competitions Manager Jason Cameron said: “We can look back with pride on the 59th year of the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon. From the three new events, which offered a new dimension to the iconic event, plus the delivery of our traditional events the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. This year sets us up nicely for our 60th anniversary next year when we will look forward to putting on another fantastic event.”