What could be more significant and meaningful than receiving a pounamu (greenstone) pendant created at a Rotorua-based family business, by three Rotorua-born carvers, for a massive Rotorua-only event?
The thirteenth edition of the Tarawera Ultramarathon will take place on 13 February, and since 2018, the talented carvers at Mountain Jade have undertaken an annual ritual of creating beautiful toki (adze) pendants to be gifted to a particular group of competitors – the 200 or so who complete the longest distance, the 100 Miler (for us Kiwis, that’s a jaw-dropping 165.2 kilometres).
But there’s something even more special about this year’s pendants.
This year all Miler finishers will go home with a toki carved from the same stone.
“As athletes come together in Rotorua to take on this challenge, they will leave here forever connected by their experience and by the precious tāonga connecting them back to this experience and incredible location,” said Rich Barter, Mountain Jade ecommerce and brand manager.
“After a difficult year where, for some, we have never felt further apart, we wanted to produce something that connected us more than ever. The trail running community will be coming from every corner of New Zealand and the event will be a celebration! To be able to gift people who shared this experience something to forever connect them after the event, and into the future, felt appropriate.”
The toki is a symbol of courage and strength, and Mountain Jade feels a toki pendant is the perfect recognition for those who overcome this epic feat of endurance. While the race takes runners through what is classified as one of the world’s most scenic 100-mile runs, athletes must traverse unforgiving volcanic terrain, forests, Sulphur Bay, river crossings and more – all while gaining 5,000+ metres in elevation. For many, it will take well over 24 hours, seeing the sun rise twice and battling through the darkness of night. Competitors must finish within 36 hours.
One doesn’t have to be in the country long to understand that New Zealanders appreciate the honour and distinction of gifting or receiving carved pounamu on special occasions, so Mountain Jade will be crafting 250 pendants, not only allowing the Milers to choose their own toki that speaks to them, but giving them the chance to purchase one for someone else such as a coach or supporter.