News & Updates
Ray finally joins the Survivors Club after lengthy wait
Grandfather Ray Lichtwark is set to fulfil his long-held ambition to join the Rotorua Marathon Survivors Club on Saturday almost 20 years after his last outing in the iconic race.
The retired carpenter completed his 14th Rotorua Marathon in 2003 – to sit a tantalising one race away from joining the fabled Survivors Club.
For the past 19 years, Rotorua-based Ray has focused his energy of competing in triathlons during the first half of the year preventing him from reaching the milestone achievement in New Zealand’s most historic marathon.
However, following its Covid postponement earlier this year and the race being pushed back to an early spring slot, opened up an opportunity for Ray to rack up his 15th Rotorua Marathon.
“I guess Covid has given me the opportunity to run Rotorua again,” says Ray, 76. “When I saw that the race has shifted to September, I thought I have all winter to do the endurance work.”
Inspired by his two younger brothers who had both completed the Rotorua Marathon, Ray completed his first Rotorua Marathon in 1982 and over the next 21 years completed the iconic ‘lap of the lake’ 14 times, recording a handy best time of 2:52.
After his most recent appearance in 2003 he fully expected to return to clock up number 15 but the two-time World Ironman Championship competitor admits life became busy.
“I had work, family, life and other distractions,” admits Ray of his long period of absence from the Rotorua Marathon. “I was also overseas for a number of years and that early May slot was always triathlon season for me.”
However, after Survivors Club ‘officer in charge’ Pam Kenny mentioned to Ray that race day for the 2022 edition of the Rotorua Marathon was September 17 he leapt at the opportunity to return to the race.
As part of his training Ray has walked “five to six hours” in the Whakarewarewa Forest and although he says his 15th appearance will be “nothing flash” in terms of his time he is excited at the prospect of finally joining the Survivors Club on Saturday.
“I will be walking and doing what they call the ironman shuffle and I have no expectations other than to get around,” explains Ray. “This will certainly mean the most to me compared to the other Rotorua Marathons, I think it first crossed my mind to join the Survivors Club when I’d done about 12. It is certainly a long time between drinks.”
***Entries are still available for the Rotorua Marathon which takes place on Saturday 17 September. The race offers full marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5.5km options. Enter here.
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