The annual event celebrating 42-years of running is set for another full week of road races from September 19 to 25.
The philosophy behind the popular road race series has always been to generate funds to support budding local track and field athletes – and track star Alex Beddoes is a result of this grassroots support.
The 24-year-old was one of the standout athletes of the 2019 Pacific Games, bagging two gold medals – one gold in his preferred 800 metre event and his second gold coming from the men’s 1500 metre race.
Other local athletes who have benefited from funds raised during the annual Round Rarotonga Road Race include fellow track speedster Patricia Taea and field athlete Tereapii Tapoki.
This year, a group of budding high school athletes, no doubt inspired by the likes of Alex Beddoes and Patricia Taea, have been pounding the pavement to represent the Cook Islands at the annual New Zealand Second Schools Athletics Championships later this year.
Financial support through the Round Rarotonga Road Race ensures local athletes can travel to New Zealand for the opportunity to pit their skills against their Kiwi counterparts.
Now, three weeks out from the start of the weeklong running event, more than 150 international athletes, many who are returning visitors, have registered for the event and with local registrations opening recently, island runners and walkers are putting their names down for the challenge.
It’s not all serious running though with fun runs, a cross-island “nutters” run and a round-the-rock relay all part of the week of running.
This year’s Round Rarotonga Road Race starts off in a light hearted manner with the fun run on Thursday, September 19, where all runners, walkers and supporters are encouraged to dress up for a colourful occasion.
The main Round Raro 31km run will be staged on Saturday, September 21, with a crack-of-dawn start.
While those signed up for the 31km race will get their race underway at 5.30am, runners and walkers taking on the shorter 10km run starting from the Bahai Faith in Ngatangiia will take off the start line at 7.30am and finish at the Sinai Hall in Avarua.
Top runners and walkers will be celebrated and awarded at the Round Rarotonga prize giving on Sunday, September 22, with the celebratory mood rolling into Monday 23 September for the Hash House Harriers birthday run.
This fun event is followed by an island kaikai which is sure to set up athletes for the ‘Nutters Cross Island Run’ that will take competitors from the south side of the island over the mountain ranges and finishing at Avatiu.
The running load will be shared on Wednesday 25 September for the teams “round the rock relay” where Rarotonga Schools and local businesses put their best foot forward to support youth athletics development.