Record Numbers Set to Celebrate Half Century Milestone for NZ's Oldest Marathon

Friday 20 December 2013, 1:39PM

By Athletics New Zealand



Many runners decide to celebrate their own 50th birthdays by ‘taking on the lake’

The 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s oldest marathon, the iconic Lion Foundation Rotorua Marathon, is on track to break entry records, with over 3,000 people having already signed up to take their place on the starting line next May.

Organisers are astounded at how fast entries have been pouring in given there are still four months to go. They’re confident of breaking the current marathon record of 5900 runners and walkers who took part in the marathon’s 25th anniversary in 1989.

“Running a marathon is a bucket-list event for many people,” says Athletics NZ commercial and marketing manager, Carl Jackson. “So far we’ve received 74 entries from people currently aged 49, and 88 entries from people who are 50. They’re obviously keen to celebrate their own half century milestone by running ours.”

The marathon course is one lap of Lake Rotorua and begins in the picturesque Government Gardens before heading through the city, around the lake and back into the gardens by passing underneath the historic Prince’s Gate archway.

Of the 3,000 people entered to date, one third of them are from Auckland. Hundreds of entries have flooded in from Wellington and the Waikato, with an additional 90 international runners having signed up despite limited international publicity.

The Rotorua Marathon officially holds the honour of being the longest running marathon of its kind in Oceania.  The event first ran in 1965 with 12 of the 16 competitors finishing the race.  Since then, more than 86,000 people have taken part. “We’re expecting many former participants to return for the 50th anniversary race. It’s a very special event and everyone wants to be part of sporting history,” Jackson says.
Commemorative medals will be presented as runners cross the finish line and all full marathon entrants will receive an Asics finishers t-shirt, history book and race goodie bag.

The race will also double as the Athletics New Zealand Marathon Championship for 2014 so will attract top runners from around the country vying for senior, masters, and team titles.  Last year’s race was won by Sam Wreford of Timaru in 2:22:23 sec (male) and Erin Furness of Hamilton in 2:57:25 sec (female).  Competition will be fierce amongst leading competitors in 2014 with Gold Coast-based Olympian Dale Warrander aiming to build on his record five title wins opposite Phil Costley, Ben Ruthe and Tony Payne.  Amongst the females, Furness will return to defend her title against the likes of Lisa Robertson and Kelly Parlane.

“The Rotorua Marathon is a must-do event for all long-distance runners,” Jackson says. “We expect a massive turnout for the 50th celebration – not only from elite athletes, but people who have always wanted to run a marathon and are keen to experience something special.”

The weekend will be one of Rotorua’s busiest for the year, and people are urged to book accommodation as early as possible as thousands of spectators will accompany competitors for a memorable trip away.
Entries are also open for the RECT half marathon (21.1km), ASICS quarter marathon (10.5km) and Unison fun run (5.5km). There will also be the ActivePost kids’ event (2 km) on the afternoon of Friday 2nd May, which is a free event with the first 500 entries to receive a free t-shirt.

Runners competing in the full 42.2km race must be at least 16 years old to enter.

Course maps, online entry and further information is available at