2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Rotorua events, with the news that leading international trail runner Hiroki Ishikawa has confirmed he will run the Tarawera Ultra Marathon in March.
This follows the recent excitement surrounding Lance Armstrong’s announcement he is to compete in the Eves Realty Blue Lake Multisport Festival in January.
Ishikawa is recognised internationally in the field of trail running, with a string of competition successes to his name. The 35-year old Japanese professional trail runner is also one of the most passionate advocates for the sport.
As well as having won or placed in many international events, in 2007 Ishikawa completed four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile trails in the United States in a total time 87 hours, earning him the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Award.
Ishikawa still competes but is now also an ambassador for trail running and a race director in his own right. He works with companies to establish new events to help popularise the sport he loves, especially in Japan.
Tarawera Ultra Marathon race director Paul Charteris is delighted to have received Ishikawa’s entry and is hopeful that, as with the ‘Armstrong effect’, event registrations will receive a boost.
“Off-road running is one of the most popular activities in Japan, with more than three million participants. Even before Hiroki added his name to the starters’ list I’d heard that 15 Japanese athletes are planning to race Tarawera,” says Mr Charteris.
“Hiroki is the rock-star among them. He attracts the sort of media interest in Japan that an All Black would command in New Zealand, and I’m sure his registration will encourage others to enter.”
Destination Rotorua Tourism Marketing general manger Don Gunn says attracting high calibre athletes like Armstrong and Ishikawa has a great knock on effect for the Rotorua tourism industry.
“Not only does the number of event participants coming into the city increase with ‘celebrity’ registrations, but it also gives us leverage to attract visitors for a once in a lifetime chance to witness these outstanding professionals in action,” says Mr Gunn.
“That guys like Lance and Hiroki are registering for our events is also proof that Rotorua has gained international recognition as a destination with high quality events, facilities and infrastructure.
“It is also a tribute to the passion and dedication of the event organisers themselves, some of whom like Paul do this on a part-time/amateur basis and yet achieve an incredibly high international profile. Well done to them.”
The Tarawera Ultra Marathon will be held on 19 March 2011. It is a long-distance foot race through the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. According to Mr Charteris, it is not just about hardcore ultra runners, it is designed as a run for anyone who likes to challenge themselves while enjoying scenic, wild surroundings.
Starting at the Redwoods in Rotorua, the trail skirts around lakes Tikitapu (Blue Lake), Okareka, Okataina and Tarawera before following the Tarawera River to the finish in Kawerau. The all off road route takes in forest, native bush, open farmland and exotic forestry, with views of lakes, volcanoes and waterfalls. There are three distances to choose from: 60km, 85km and 100km.
For more information on the Tarawera Ultra Marathon, visit: www.taraweraultra.co.nz
Photo: © Glenn Tachiyama