The stunning, natural setting of the TECT All Terrain Park was showcased in all its glory on Sunday with the second Tauranga Trail Run attracting more than 500 participants in glorious conditions.
The event, sponsored by Smiths Sports Shoes Tauranga, proved to be an outstanding success for the competitors who covered all age spectrums and physical conditioning, in various activities ranging from children's fun walks, adults walks, and more competitive runs over 10km, 15km and 30km.
It would be hard to find a more picturesque setting for some early summer physical activity than the park located 29km from the Lakes heading to Rotorua.
An added bonus was that the proceeds for the event will help fund the Tauranga Boys' College cross country team's costs to attend the national championships in Christchurch next year.
Tauranga Trail Run organiser, and teacher in charge of cross country at Tauranga Boys', Scott Furness, said he was impressed with the numbers that attended yesterday.
"We had a huge surge of interest on Saturday afternoon when 92 people queued up outside Smiths Sports Shoes to sign up between 2pm and 4pm, and we got a lot more on the day because the weather was so good," said Furness.
"It is also great to see so many people enjoy the trails for the first time. I heard from a number of people who told me they had driven past so many times but have never turned left and seen what the park is like.
"A whole lot of new trails have been cut and the course this year is utilising quite a few of those new trails and over time it will only get better as more and more trails go in and the native trees that are being planted grow up and become more of a feature."
Last year's winner of the main event, Russell Lake, was back to defend his title over the slightly longer 30km course.
And Lake did not disappoint.
He was competing in the 40-44 age group but left all the young guns well and truly in his wake, as he stormed home in the time of 2hr 12m 21s, more than seven minutes clear of the second placed runner.
"I was pushing the pace pretty hard in the second lap, just hoping my legs didn't fall off," Lake said.
"It was different to last year, with some new sections, and much drier than last year, when it was quite wet and boggy, particularly coming up to the equestrian area.
"Hats off to the organisers who did a great job and put in a lot of work into the tracks.
"The TECT guys have done some fantastic work as well so well done to them all.
"I just love running in bush and if it is a race as well, then that makes it even better. It is just so nice to get out and run on these sorts of tracks."
"It is just awesome and good for the soul."
Lake's time is even more significant given the tough terrain he endured in parts of the course, having to go through the famous Te Rerenga Tunnel, hand dug in the 1930s to divert a stream under Pyes Pa Rd, and the vast majority of the terrain is undulating at best.
"I'm not sure if there are any flat bits," Furness said. "Maybe the start line was flat but pretty much everything else is up and down.
"On the 30km run there are three stream crossings, all events go through the tunnel and there is also a boardwalk area with plenty of stairs coming out of that gully at the back.
"It is not an easy sort of run along Marine Parade for 5km sort of thing. It is up and down the whole way."