AMONG the nearly 5000 participants in tomorrow's Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay International Marathon will be some familiar names, with celebrity chef Josh Emmet, radio and television personalities Rachel Smalley and Laura McGoldrick and NZME newsreader Niva Retimanu amongst those lining up.

Not only is Mr Emmet going to run the NZ Sotheby's Half Marathon, but after a shower and a change of clothes he'll be prepping to cook dinner for 40 runners he's travelling with - all trained by Gaz Brown at Get Running.

"I don't know how I get myself into these things," he joked, adding "it's just a cheeky half-marathon ... it will be good fun."

Mr Emmet is an avid long-distance runner, having participated in many New Zealand events as well as the New York Marathon which he did in 2009.

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"I played sport at school - rugby, football and cricket - but I left and went straight into cooking.

"It's not a career that lends itself to team sports, turning up to team training is out for a start.

"So for most of my 20s I played very little sport and I think I'm feeling a benefit ... I'm not carrying old war wounds and I'm not injury-prone."

Mr Emmet runs to keep fit and active, and says being trained by Mr Brown makes it easier.
"I need a goal, so we pick an event and sit down for an hour and sort out a programme that works with my life and travel commitments. I use an app on my phone to keep my training on track."

Mr Emmet has a family connection with Hawke's Bay.

"My wife's sister married a Hawke's Bay farmer so we are often there enjoying the Bay's great food, produce and restaurants. We eat out or we cook what we catch on the farm; rabbits, venison, that sort of thing. I've been in Hawke's Bay with work as well, doing a lot with Cape Kidnappers."

So what's on the menu for the Get Running team after the event?

"In my mind, as runners we've been eating lean and we want to maintain that, but we also need a treat. Bluff oysters are right in season so they are on the menu, along with ceviche, a really nice braised short rib with cured smoked salmon, and lots of vegetables, with preserved apricots for dessert."

Get Running teammates Rachel Smalley, Laura McGoldrick and Niva Retimanu will be on the guest list.

It is the first New Zealand marathon for Ms Smalley, the former TV3 presenter of and host of daily morning news show Early Edition on Newstalk ZB.

"I love Hawke's Bay and this is the inaugural race so it was the obvious choice," she said.

"It's a lovely region and it's even better knowing there will be a nice bottle of syrah waiting for me at the end.

"Gaz has put together a brilliant tour. On Sunday we'll be visiting wineries and enjoying great food. Two nights isn't long enough.

"Niva has just written a book about her journey to becoming a marathon runner. She's doing the half but when she's finished she's going to put on a fancy dress costume and wait for me at the finish line. I have no idea what she'll be dressed in. I dread to think. I've seen her dressed up as a chicken, a nun, a carrot and a beer bottle."

Ms McGoldrick is perhaps the "rookie" of the four. "I love Hawke's Bay and a goal this year was to run in an event. My goal is just to finish comfortably. I'm hoping the sense of achievement when I complete the race will be reward in itself - and celebrating with a nice glass of wine."

Mr Emmet says he is looking forward to a great weekend.

"I know a lot of people who are running. These events are becoming a bit of everything, a way to socialise as well as being about fitness. There is so much more to do while we're in Hawke's Bay. I think the restaurants and wineries are going to do well this weekend."