Big Smiles at XTERRA New Zealand Races

Apr. 12, 2017

This weekend, New  Zealanders had a tough choice between two fantastic races: XTERRA Rotorua and XTERRA Wellington’s second race of its series: The Orongorongos. The two cities are about 450 km apart and are extremely different from each other. Rotorua is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire where you can run between geysers and geothermal vents. XTERRA Wellington was held at the southernmost tip of the North Island in Rimutaka Forest Park, a lush park near Wellington Harbor.

In the XTERRA Rotorua run, Johanna Ottoson won the women’s 21K easily in  1:29:52 while Tama Christensen took the men’s title in 1:20:20.

View the XTERRA Rotorua results.

Down south in Wellington, Will Bell and junior Anoush Shehadeh won the 20K in 1:46:07 and 1:59:24, respectively. In high school, Shehadeh was a standout runner. She was 4th in the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in 2013 and was named the 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

“The Orongorongo Valley is the spiritual home of XTERRA trail running, with our first event held here in 2008," said race director, Mike Thomason.

The Orongorongos Valley in the Rimutaka Forest is a very special place, pristinely maintained by the Department of Conservation. The area wasn’t settled until the 1920’s, when people built wooden huts out of materials on hand. The area is so beautiful that some people made these huts their homes, while others came to the Orongorongos valley to “tramp,” also known as backpacking. The last hut was built in 1980, and the Department of Conservation currently protects and manages the 50 huts in the valley.

“Trail running is such a great way to connect to tradition,” said Thomason. “And the XTERRA Rotorua and Wellington races are a great way to keep that tradition alive.”

View the XTERRA Wellington results.

The XTERRA Wellington series consists of five races. The next one up is Awesome Akatarawas on April 30th. 

Photo credit: Stephen Barker/

Trail Run