Race Director Chronicles: Shaun Collins and the Lactic Turkey Events

We profile Shaun Collins, who puts on trail races through his company Lactic Turkey Events, in New Zealand.

By on June 9, 2023 | Comments

AJW's Taproom

[Author’s Note: This is the third of an eight-part series in AJW’s Taproom called Race Director Chronicles, where we profile the unsung heroes who make our sport’s racing possible.]

New Zealand native Shaun Collins has been directing running events for over 25 years. Known to many by his Instagram handle, @Runningbeast, Collins is a fixture in the Kiwi endurance scene. Lactic Turkey Events is a labor of love for Collins, who notes that for him the most satisfying part of his work “is to give people the opportunity to adventure and challenge themselves in ways which they would not likely do themselves.”

“I get a buzz from seeing people at the finish having stretched what they think they can do and succeeding. You might see a clear novice runner at the registration table beforehand and think, Wow, this is gonna’ hurt you, and then you see them at the finish with a massive grin on their faces and they have loved it. That’s the best thing to see!”

Shaun Collins - 2019 Riverhead Rampage 21k

Shaun Collins running the 2019 Riverhead Rampage 21k. Photo: Lactic Turkey Events

With over a dozen events ranging in distance from 5 kilometers to 80k and beyond, Collins provides something for everyone, even a series of events geared specifically for school children. The two marquee ultra events he produces are The Hillary, an 80k race from Arataki to Muriwai, and the Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra, a race in the now-global backyard format. And, Collins chuckles when he tells me that they are re-introducing a format they used 15 years ago at Rage Against the Riverhead.

Collins explains, “Rage Against the Riverhead will be a team trail run relay for 24, 12, or eight hours. This is a party in the forest with teams setting up a tent site for the duration and complete as many loops as they can in the timeframe. Teams dress up in fun costumes and with the music and competition it’s a real buzz!”

Collins is tremendously proud of his home country and delights in creating events that show off New Zealand’s beauty and diversity. “New Zealand has such a wide variety of terrain within a short distance so there is something for everyone! From coastal trails through the forest to mountain tussock cover trails with snow and massive views.”

Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra

Runners taking part in the Riverhead Backyard ReLaps Ultra. Photo: Lactic Turkey Events

As is the case for many event directors around the world, Collins faces challenges with private landowners, the impact and damage to trail systems due to climate change, and increased competition with new events seemingly popping up every month. Needless to say, New Zealand is not immune to the booming popularity of trail running and ultrarunning.

Finally, Collins is proud to note that his events focus on providing authentic experiences for all runners rather than a “bunch of bling.” In fact, Collins proudly states that Lactic Turkey Events are intentionally “low-key, grassroots experiences rather than attempts to just make a profit.” And, for over 25 years, the local Kiwi trail running and ultrarunning community has liked it that way!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Mindful Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Straight Kolsch is a fantastic Austrian-style beer brewed in the classic tradition. Drinkable, a bit sweet, and incredibly smooth, Straight Kolsch is a beer you can drink with just about any food or simply on its own.

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Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.