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Person of the Month: Paul Charteris
5 March 2015
Person of the Month: Paul Charteris

Paul Charteris has helped cultivate a running culture in the region. Photo / Graeme Murray

 

As founder of the world-renowned Tarawera Ultra Marathon, Paul Charteris says one of his biggest highlights has been helping create a friendly and informative running culture in Rotorua.

"Overall the most satisfying thing is creating a community around the event. It really is the people. The community never existed around four years ago but now we have several thousands of people from Auckland, Wellington, Napier ... people just become friends and meet different groups of people, and that's how friendships are made, and people find training partners."

Kawerau-raised Mr Charteris, who started the Tarawera Ultra Marathon in 2009, is the Rotorua Daily Post Person of the Month for February.

Mr Charteris had been a part of ultra marathon groups when he lived in California, and through the concept would appeal to Kiwis.

"It took a long time to grow. The first [Tarawera Ultra] had 67 people. A lot of it was word of mouth. In 2009 we spent more money than we really had to give people a really good time.

"In the first year there were only things like Ironman and the Coast to Coast; it [the ultra] raised the profile of ultra marathon running in New Zealand.

"When I first established the race there was a void there, but nobody knew there was a void until it was filled. I have had so many comments from people saying 'I never knew I loved trail and ultra marathon'."

The 2015 Tarawera Ultra Marathon last month hit the cap of 1000 entrants (including Mr Charteris - the first time he'd competed in his own event) and Mr Charteris expects next year's event to do the same.

He left his job at Scion in May last year to dedicate himself to organising the Ultra Marathon, as well as the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50km.

"Over the winter we will do a lot of marketing to overseas audiences, including Asia, North America and Europe."

Reports showed the Ultra Marathon injected $1.08 million into the local economy last year and showcased the region on 40 television stations across about 85 countries.

The event has secured funding of $300,000 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over the next three years.

 

Source - Rotorua Daily Post

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