The 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB will see a record number of athletes return to Rotorua on 11-12 February - Photo Tim Bardsley-Smith (002)

Record numbers as Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB returns to the trails of Rotorua

The 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB is set to be the largest trail running event New Zealand has ever hosted with over 5,000 runners expected to hit the trails of Rotorua on February 11-12.

The event returns after two years and will welcome the most participants in its 14-year history, with runners taking on four distances – 21km, 50km, 102km and the 100-Miler (165km).

The event kicks off at 4am on Saturday 11 February for those taking part in the 100-mile race, with athletes given 36 hours to complete the course which includes running along multiple lakes, through lush native bush, the towering Whakarewarewa Forest, steam alongside the trail at Sulphur Point and finishing at the Village Green by the lakeside in Rotorua.

All other distances also start on Saturday, with the 50km race underway at 7am, the 102km at 8.30am, and the 21km at 9.00am. These courses also feature lakes, waterfalls, the redwoods, sulphur flats and the lakeside Rotorua finish.

Mitch Murcott, Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB Race Director, says he’s delighted to welcome the trail community back to Rotorua.

“After two years away we’re so excited to reunite the trail community in Rotorua for what will be the biggest Tarawera Ultramarathon to date. It’s great to see the event continue to grow each year, with 75% of athletes taking part in the event for the first time in 2023, and the more than 5,000 runners and their supporters will provide a welcome boost to the Rotorua region,” said Murcott.

“With the time passed between events it’s important that we remember the significance of the community, culture, and land that make this event so special. We want to encourage all those attending, visiting, and participating in the Tarawera Ultramarathon to respect and look after the land we are so lucky to run through. I’m sure everyone will work together to leave the trails in the same if not better state than we found them.”

Community is at the heart of the Tarawera Ultramarathon. A blend of Rotorua’s Māori culture and its hospitality, the friendly and enthusiastic athletes and their dedicated supporter crews, and the hundreds of volunteers – many of whom have been involved since the event’s inception in 2009 – make the Tarawera Ultramarathon even more special.

“For those keen to immerse themselves further in the culture of the region and the event, we recommend attending Friday’s Powhiri Welcome at Te Puia. Athletes and their supporters will also enjoy the karakias and cultural performances that take place at the start line for each distance,” said Murcott. “For those who finish early, make sure you head back to the Village Green finish line to soak up the atmosphere, especially when it gets dark and we welcome home our TUM102 and TUMMiler winners who will be greeted by a haka in respect of their efforts.”

The Tarawera Ultramarathon is the first UTMB World Series event of 2023, part of a circuit of the best trail running events in the world offering runners the only opportunity to begin their quest to UTMB Mont-Blanc – the UTMB World Series Final and the pinnacle event of trail running.

This year the event will welcome runners from outside of New Zealand for the first time since 2020, with international competitors making up 40% of the field.

“It’s exciting to be the first event on the calendar of the 2023 UTMB World Series and helps the event attract runners from all over the globe. The Tarawera Ultramarathon is a great way to kick off the trail running season with runnable courses, awesome community spirit, some of the best aid stations and volunteers in the world, and super stunning trails,” said Murcott.

2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB – Facts & Figures

  • Over 5,000 athletes are taking part across four distances
  • An almost even gender split with 51% maleand 49% female taking part
  • 75% of those participating are taking part in the event for the first time
  • International competitors make up 40% of the field
  • Tarawera Ultramarathon runners represent 76 nationalities
  • The most represented nationalities outside of New Zealand are Australia, Great Britain, the United States, France, Canada, Ireland, and Japan
  • The oldest male competitor is 83-year-old Ivan Beale in the 21km event
  • The oldest female competitor is 82-year-old Eileen Odgers taking on the 50km
  • There are multiple youngest competitors at 16 years old, all taking part in the 21km

For more information and to enter the 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB visit:

Header image: The 2023 Tarawera Ultramarathon by UTMB will see a record number of athletes return to Rotorua on February 11-12. Credit: Tim Bardsley-Smith

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *