The Nduro Whaka 100 is one of those sporting events in which anyone who even considers tackling it deserves a medal.
The 100km endurance race on the world-class mountain bike trail network in the Whakarewarewa Forest, being held for the 11th time tomorrow, is widely regarded as one of the most demanding and challenging races on the planet.
Race director Tim Farmer said there was nothing else like the Whaka 100 in the southern hemisphere.
"It basically takes in a combination of all the trails in the forest and it's a big day on the bike - the winning time is usually around five-and-a-half hours. The average, everyday rider is probably seven hours-plus.
"Most 100km races around the world are over and done with in two hours or two-and-a-half hours. For a lot of the riders this is their bucket list event - it's one of those milestone events for people and then for the top guys it's getting that title for racing one of the toughest events and winning it," Farmer said.
The Whaka 100 is growing every year - tomorrow there are 654 riders entered - and it is becoming increasingly popular for overseas riders.
"We're up to 13 nations now, as far away as Belgium and Norway, they come from all over the place.
"Locally there's nobody in the 100km race, but regionally Tristan Haycock from Tauranga is a chance, he races here all the time. Then there's people like Australia's Jason English, who's a seven-time endurance 24-hour world champion, he's probably one of the favourites along with Wellington's Edwin Crossling. They are two very good riders.
"Some of the invitational guys from Europe are unknown and there are a couple of other elites from Australia here as well. We're picking it might be the first time ever that the title goes to an overseas rider."
Last year Crossling finished second and English finished third. Last year's winner, Jack Compton of Wellington, suffered a serious injury at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns so won't be defending his title.
"In the women's race the two favourites are Josie Wilcox, from Manawatu, who won the winter series here and Jeanette Gerrie from Christchurch - they're probably our two contenders in the ladies field."
Last year Wellington's Kim Hurst took the women's title in 6h 45m and 26s with Australian elite XC racer Karen Hill second and Gerrie in third.
Farmer said many of the international riders spent the week leading up to the event in Rotorua, familiarising themselves with the trails, which was a great boost to the local economy.
"I saw one of the guys from Norway and he said 'I've found heaven'. To the Rotorua riders, Europe is the place to go and ride because it's different. But [the overseas riders] are so blown away by the quality of trails here. It's a really big drive and I don't know if people realise that the events in general are bringing a lot of people to Rotorua."
At 2pm today the Whaka Shootout is being held, a 1.9km time trial for seeding, and there will be a DJ playing on the main stage at Waipa. The 100km race starts at 8am tomorrow and there will be 50km, 25km and 5.5km events designed to cater for all.