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1. THE WINNER AND THE #1 RUNNING EVENT IN NEW ZEALAND:
This was top of the list by a mile! This event is run at the end of August each year in the historical mining town of Naseby. The course is a 10km figure 8 loop on a mix of forest roads and trail. There's a 50km, 80km, 100km and 100mile + team options. This is a great event for getting out there and having a bash at your first ultra, or for the experienced it's a course to get a PB. It has a super friendly and casual atmosphere. This race has heart, it's what ultra's are all about.
The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run comprises of a series of off road trail runs or walks which take place on the stunningly beautiful Northern Coromandel Peninsula. There are 13km, 23km, 32km, and 76km options. This runs in November and a kauri tree is planted for each runner entered, to restore the Kauri forest- that's very cool!
The 52km scenic route just outside of Christchurch runs in February and takes in the popular Wharfedale and Blowhard tracks and passes through the stunning Lees Valley. It has a nice twist at the end with a challenging unforgetable climb. These guys seriously know how to put on a feast at their aid stations. If you like to eat and run, this event will make you feel you've run straight to heaven. Perfect event for first-timers through to elite. Super friendly supportive atmosphere and well organised.
The 75km Hillary Trail in the Waitakere's on the outskirts of Auckland was named after Sir Ed. This is a challenging course but has seriously hard to beat scenery- sea views, coastal tracks and lush native bush. It's held in mid March and has 16km, 34 or 80km options.
The Kepler Challenge is the only New Zealand event that sells out in minutes. It's a 60km mountain run in the beautiful Fiordland National Park. Not quite up for an ultra? You can take on the 27km Luxmore Grunt it's sister event. This is held early December and the trail is one of New Zealand "Great Walks". The locals are what make this special, the aid stations are themed and no matter how exhausted you feel, you'll carry on with a smile on your face.
This is the toughest race in New Zealand. It's set in the beautiful rugged Central Otago on Northburn station (near Cromwell). The 100miler has 8000m of climbing and decent and the temperatures range from 30 degrees to freezing. Yip you need walking poles and some sturdy determination. There is a 50km, 100km and 100mile options plus kids events. Want a serious challenge, take this one on.
The Saint Clair Vineyard 1/2 marathon in Marlborough in May will have you running through private vineyard land. This is a fun event, bagpipes hoot from one vineyard, while a banjo and bongos play at another, you can even experience a little wine tasting on your travels. You're rewarded for your effort with a bottle of Saint Clair wine when you finish. No wonder this event sells out!
The Rotorua Marathon in May is over 50 years old and Rotorua really knows how to celebrate running. What stands out at this marathon is the remarkable community spirit behind the race. Expect lots of support cheering you on as you run around Lake Rotorua.
36km of beautiful trail running from Awaroa to Marahau in the renowned Abel Tasman National Park. This event runs in September and will sell out so commit early and be rewarded on the day by beautiful bush, sea views and sunshine. This is a great value event, it includes boat transport, lunch and a prize giving dinner.
The Buller 1/2 and full marathon is well known as being New Zealands most scenic road marathon. The course route follows the bushlined Buller Gorge Highway on the West Coast finishing in Westport. This event is in mid February and is super popular, a great event for beginners through to elites and it's one many run every year.
Ok this was supposed to be a Top 10 of New Zealand running events, but sometimes you just can't miss the 11th event out, it's just too good!!!
20km adventure run with 1000m of vertical ascent inTongariro National Park whoohoo. See ancient lava flows, scoria fields, beech forest, tussock grasslands, waterfalls, an alpine lake, rivers.., you get the picture. Run this early December- it'll feel like an early Christmas present to yourself.