Rotorua captures the attention of Olympic athletes



17 July 2020 

Local runners have been soaking up inspiration from some of New Zealand’s top athletes this week. 

A group of 16-20 athletes, including high profile NZ Olympic representatives and world ranked athletes Zane and Jake Robertson, Samuel Tanner and Hayden Wilde, are making the most of Rotorua’s world-class training facilities including forest trails, open spaces, and recovery therapy. 

The group are some of New Zealand’s top middle and long distance runners. The distances for middle and long distance running can range anywhere from 800m to 10,000m. 

NZ Olympic Distance Running Coach, Steve Willis says Rotorua’s unique environment is what makes it work well for a training camp.

“The reason Rotorua worked well as a base for this training camp was due to a range of key areas.

There are excellent off road trails and logging roads in the Whakarewarewa Forest that are sheltered from the wind and drain well in the winter, and the location is easily accessible from Auckland and other key centres. 

“As well as our relationship with the local Lake City Athletic Club who have let us use their clubrooms, our local running contacts and a good relationship with Rotorua Lakes Council who have helped us with access to gym, recreational activities, and tourism activities have all combined to make this camp easier to organise.”

Amongst the group are internationally and nationally ranked athletes Sam Osborne and Michael Voss, both locals from the Lake City Athletic Club. They are using their knowledge of the area to provide guided runs while the group are here. Lake City Athletics Club President Rob Colledge is encouraging their local members to take part as it is a great opportunity to learn from the leaders in their sport. 

“The training camp party numbered some 26 people who are spending 10 days in Rotorua contributing to the local economy at the same time as carrying out their training.

“It also showcases New Zealand’s top level runners and coaches not just to locals but also to the large number of school holiday visitors and it increases the public’s awareness of our sport and the presence of the Lake City Athletic Club Inc. in Rotorua. 

“It is important for runners of all grades to be able to access “cross training” and where better to do this than in the Redwoods Tokorangi Triangle and the Whakarewarewa Forest.”

Mr Willis says he is keen to establish a long-term relationship with Rotorua.

“Having the high performance athletes in town will hopefully inspire and motivate local athletes to continue with their running or start looking at the pathways available to them in regards to getting to that next level in their training.”

As part of the training camp, the group have included recovery work using the Performance Training Centre at the Rotorua International Stadium, and the pools at Rotorua Aquatic Centre as well making the most of the thermal pools at Polynesian Spa. 

The athletes were able to check out some of Rotorua’s hot spots, using the trails in and around Rotorua with Totally Tarawera hosting them at Hot Water Beach, Lake Tarawera. During the weekend the camp has also worked in with the local running community, Puarenga Parkrun, checking out trails around Sanatorium Reserve. 

Image: Athletics NZ runners at Puarenga Parkrun and checking out the Tarawera Trail, Hot Water Beach with hosts Totally Tarawera - credit: Cameron Graves

Page reviewed: 17 Jul 2020 9:00am