IRONMAN – the worldwide brand usually associated with long form triathlon and recent owner of Australia’s largest trail event in Ultra Trail Australia – has announced the acquisition of New Zealand’s largest trail event, the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon.

Now in its eleventh year, the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon is a big drawcard regionally and internationally with more than 2000 runners expected for the February 6 to 10 event this year.

“We are excited at the opportunity for further growth and development of the Tarawera Ultra under the guidance of the team at IRONMAN,” said Paul Charteris, owner and founder of Tarawera Ultra-Marathon. “I am so proud of what the event has become in the past 11 years. The event started as a dream when I was running around in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, home to the Western States Endurance Run. That dream became a reality when I returned to New Zealand in 2008.”  

“What I am most proud of is the community of people this event has helped grow. We’ve been part of the journey of people’s lives,” Charteris continued. 

Both Charteris and Race Director Tim Day will stay on with the event, continuing to deliver a world class experience with the guidance and support of the IRONMAN team. 

One of the keys to that success and the potential for future growth is the event’s location, in the heart of the central North Island. Tarawera is considered the birthplace of tourism in New Zealand and for over 150 years, visitors have been drawn to the natural beauty of the area. Today, Rotorua plays host to more than four million visitors each year.   

“Just as the run is woven into the hillsides, forests and around the lakes of this volcanic landscape, the culture of the people of Te Arawa are woven into the event,” said Charteris. “The run takes place in an area of significant spiritual value to the people of Te Arawa and the organisers fully acknowledge that the ability to run the event in such a location as a privilege.” 

IRONMAN built its sporting empire on the same-branded triathlon format, most famously in Kona, Hawaii, but it also produces a big stable of other-brand triathlon, road running, mountain biking, multisport and cycling events.

IRONMAN Oceania Managing Director Dave Beeche paid kudos to Paul and Tim’s efforts in building Tarawera.

“Paul, Tim and the team have done a wonderful job over these past 10 years delivering an event of high quality on some amazing and inspiring trails through the Rotorua heartland. We are honoured to now take up the challenge of further growing and nurturing the event on those same values.

2017 Tarawera Ultra Marathon

2017 Tarawera Ultra Marathon

“The Tarawera has been built on a love for the customers, looking after them and fostering a close-knit trail running community. The values of the Tarawera are customer centric, with a focus on delivering a welcoming and friendly event, something that we aspire to in all our events,” Beeche added. “We can’t wait to work closely with Paul, Tim and team to take the Tarawera Ultra to an even larger and more globally diverse audience.”

The purchase of Australasia’s two biggest trail running festivals is indicative of the huge growth in trail running over the past 8-10 years, remembering when Tarawera and UTA began, there were no trail Facebook groups, no AU/NZ trail running dedicated media (Trail Run Mag began 8 years ago), and it was very much seen as a fringe pursuit. Today, there are more trail runners running more trails more often than there are mountain bikers, the wilderness sport cousin most often held up as the golden child of adventure pursuits and sports!

The emergence of big brands like IRONMAN is proof positive that trail running is now on par with many other ‘big’ sporting and recreational pursuits.

2019 Tarawera Ultra-Marathon Trail Running Festival 

  • February 6 to 10, 2019
  • Rotorua, New Zealand
  • 20km, 50km, 102km and 100 miler (160km) race options
  • Courses through the Rotorua, Tarawera region and enjoys the cooperation and support of local Iwi
  • The 102km race is part of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour. The Tarawera 100 Mile Endurance Run receives investment from the New Zealand Major Events Development Fund.
  • The 50km, 102km and 100 miler are qualifying races for UTMB, the world’s largest trail race.
  • The 102km and 100 miler see runners vie for qualifying spots at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race
  • International competitors predominantly from Australia, Asia and the USA

For more information on the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon, visit www.taraweraultra.co.nz.

For more information on IRONMAN and events in the IRONMAN portfolio, visit www.ironman.com.