News & Updates

24 September 2020 • General

Rotorua Marathon among first in world

As one of the first mass-participation running events to be staged anywhere in the world since the outbreak of the global pandemic, the rescheduled 2020 Rotorua Marathon on Saturday will be a significant moment for the New Zealand running community. 

Following government confirmation that New Zealand (outside of the Auckland region) is now at Alert Level 1, the iconic event finally has the green light to proceed and is expected to attract around 2000 entries, who will compete over the full marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5.5km distances.

Originally slated to take place on 2 May, the 56th edition of the historic Rotorua Marathon was postponed to its September date due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

“We’re delighted the Rotorua Marathon is going ahead,” Athletics NZ CEO Peter Pfitzinger says.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, over 40 major marathons and half marathons around the world, and several in New Zealand, have been cancelled. We are really fortunate to be able to hold an event of this magnitude, one of the few in the world so far this year.

“But, at the same time, we are highly disappointed that Auckland’s Alert level 2 restrictions mean that runners and walkers from the Auckland region are not able to participate this year and we look forward to hosting all New Zealanders for the 2021 edition. The Rotorua Marathon is one of the leading events on the annual running calendar and we hope everyone has a great experience.”

The event is also hugely welcomed by the region with Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick saying it continues to attract thousands of visitors, as well as capturing the imagination of the locals. 

“Our community loves this event,” Mayor Chadwick says.

“It’s a day when Rotorua really comes out in force to show that manaakitanga we are famous for and that keeps people coming back.  

“We look forward to welcoming Aucklanders back in future and we wish all of this year’s participants a wonderful Rotorua experience.” 

The race will serve up a whole range of participants from septuagenarian walkers and novice runners to experienced club members as they take on the challenge of meeting a range of personal goals, which range from health and fitness reasons to raising money for dozens of charitable causes. 

Despite the 2020 Rotorua Marathon no longer including the New Zealand Marathon Championships due to not all regions being able to participate, Saturday’s event has attracted some high-quality elite fields.

Leading the contenders in the men’s marathon is the experienced Blair McWhirter, who will hope to regain the title he won in 2018. The 37-year-old Cantabrian has an impressive lifetime best of 2:22 and will seek to go one better than he managed when finishing second in the 2019 edition.

Among his main rivals will be local Rotorua favourite Michael Voss, who placed third in 2019 and recorded a blistering 2:22:34 when finishing runner-up in last year’s Auckland Marathon.

Also entered are four-time Coast to Coast multisport athlete Sam Clark (Whakatane) and 40-year-old Cantabrian veteran Vajin Armstrong, who boasts a lifetime best of 2:28.

Locals will be hoping for more home success in the elite women’s race as Alice Mason pursues a hat-trick of victories.

The 33-year-old Rotorua-based doctor – boasting a best of 2:38:35 – was a decisive winner in both 2018 and 2019 and, should she complete a three-peat, will match the achievement of Olympian Nyla Carroll, who romped to three straight wins from 1994 to 1996.

Another leading female entry is Wellington-based Mel Aitken, who has a personal best of 2:47:42.

The marathon starts at 8am with the marathon walk underway at 8.05am. The starting gun will fire for the Red Stag Timber Half Marathon at 8.15am with the Red Stag Timber Half Marathon walk to follow at 8.20am. The 10km event for runners and walkers will begin at 8.35am with the 5.5km event underway at 9am.

With necessary changes to the event, an Expo will unfortunately not be staged and the prize giving will be replaced by a medal ceremony, which will be held on the main stage outside from 1.30pm.

Spot prizes will be allocated when the race packs are collected. So make sure you head to registration at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre on Friday between 2pm and 9pm or on Saturday before 8am to see if you are a winner.

Online entries have now closed but you can still enter at registration.

More information for entrants can be found by clicking here