News & Updates

3 May 2023 • Rotorua Marathon

New look Red Stag Rotorua Marathon set to build on rich heritage

Michael Voss aims to complete a record-extending fourth successive victory in the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon on Saturday. (Image: Aaron Gillions).

The 59th year of the 2023 Red Stag Rotorua Marathon promises to serve up an exhilarating three-day festival of running from Friday-Sunday (5-7 May) as the rich legacy of the historic marathon is bolstered by the addition of three new events.

With an expected 4000 plus entrants across the seven-event programme – which includes the introduction of the Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai, the high-energy RampRun and Runway5 – the 2023 version is expected to further broaden the appeal of the event within the running community.

The foundation of the iconic event remains the Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon and history could be made in both the men’s and women’s race. Leading the challengers in the men’s race is 26-year-old Rotorua builder Michael Voss who will attempt to extend his unprecedented streak of victories as he seeks a fourth successive win after first triumphing in his home marathon in 2020.

Michael will also be aiming for fifth straight marathon win after breasting the tape first at the 2021 and 2022 Rotorua Marathons and 2022 Hawke’s Bay and 3 Bridges Marathon and he is once again excited to compete in his home city.

“The race has always been special for me since I first became aware of the event kicking a football around the field as a boy and watching the runners go past,” he says. “It is always a thrill to race in front of family and friends.

“I know it won’t be easy, but I would love to get another win under my belt.”

Chief among his opposition is Malcolm Hicks, the fourth fastest New Zealand marathon runner in history following his 2:10:04 in Seville three years ago, who makes his eagerly anticipated first appearance in New Zealand over the 42.2km distance.

The experienced 35-year-old Auckland engineer competed for his country in the marathon at both the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and he will provide formidable presence in Rotorua.

Alice Mason is also hoping to create her slice of history by winning a record-equalling fourth Rotorua Marathon women’s title. The 35-year-old Tauranga-based athlete, who claimed a hat-trick of titles from 2018-20, is seeking to match the achievements of Jillian Costley, who won this race on four occasions between 1986 and 1992.

Alice, however, knows it will be no straight forward task as she only gave birth to her first child, James, nine months ago, and has made a gradual return to training.

“It is hard to know, how I will go,” she says. “I would say I am 80 per cent sure I can do the distance and run under three hours, but I don’t know.  If I can survive the hills around the airport and get back that would be great.”

Besides the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon more than 1300 entrants will running through the stunning Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest for the Red Stag Timber Half Marathon. The Go Media 10km Race – in which participants including Flava Breakfast radio hosts Mike Puru and Azura Lane – and the First Credit Union 5.5km will also take place on Saturday.

Supported by the Rotorua Trust the first of the new events to feature will be the Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai – which will double as the New Zealand Road Mile Championships – on Friday (5 May).

Finishing at Government Gardens expect all entrants to revel on the flat, fast course as they compete in the heart of Rotorua over the classic distance.

On Saturday night the RampRun will witness runners charging up the 400m of the car park building in a four-heat race format. The high-octane event will be played out to the backdrop of music and neon lighting and provide a never to be forgotten experience for all participants.

The Runway5 – a 5km race on the runway at Rotorua Airport – will provide a stunning climax to the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon on Sunday (7 May) with a series of seeded races.

An U12 mile race held in recognition of World Junior Athletics Day will also be held as part of the Runway5 event.

Leading New Zealand middle-distance star Sam Tanner, the second fastest New Zealander in history over 1500m, is entered for all three new events. Meanwhile, Olympic triathlon bronze medallist and three-time former New Zealand 5000m champion Hayden Wilde takes to the start line in the Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai and Runway5. Look out too for New Zealand 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m champion Julian Oakley, who will also be a major factor.

The women have also attracted a top-quality field for both events with Auckland-based Laura Nagel, the New Zealand 1500m, 3000m and 5000m champion, and Dunedin’s national mile champion Rebekah Greene expected to be prominent in the Museum Mile and Runway5.

Athletics NZ CE Pete Pfitzinger said: “Building towards our 60th edition of the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon next year we are very excited to introduce three brand new events to the programme. We are confident the innovative trio of events will be embraced by the wide cross section of our running community, which we feel will further help honour the legacy of one of New Zealand’s most iconic marathons.”

Start times

Friday 5 May

6.20pm – Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai

 Saturday 6 May

8am – Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon – Runners

8.05am – Red Stag Timber Rotorua Marathon – Walkers

8.15am – Red Stag Timber Half Marathon – Runners

8.20am – Red Stag Timber Half Marathon – Walkers

8.35am – Go Media 10km

9am – First Credit Union 5.5km

7pm – RampRun

 Sunday 7 May

1.30pm – Runway5

Rotorua Marathon results here

Museum Mile sponsored by Toi Ohomai results here  

Runway5 results here