For lovers of adventure in the deep south, the Goldrush is the perfect way to celebrate Otago Anniversary Weekend.
From first light this morning hundreds of mad-keen multisporters will begin their journey in the iconic 375km, three-day multisport race across Central Otago.
The Goldrush is a demanding team or individual event which includes kayaking, mountain biking, running and road biking from today until March 25.
The competition is fierce but the camaraderie is strong and the evening campsites are mellow and highlighted by the enthusiasm of the local communities who host the event each night.
For the elite athletes in the area the Goldrush is always a must-do on their events calendar.
"The Goldrush will continue to draw me back each year as it always promises an unforgettable experience," says Wanaka's Dougall Allan, who is a four-time champion in the event.
Allan, who won the overall Goldrush title in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, has already completed the Coast to Coast and most recently the GodZone Adventure Race in Queenstown this year.
Allan, whose win at the Goldrush last year was among four titles he claimed during the year, says this event is a totally unique experience.
"A special mix of people makes the race memorable, all sharing in a journey through the most spectacular multisport course in the country.
"The whole weekend is a journey of discovery and the most satisfying event I have ever completed.
"The 16th edition cannot come quickly enough."
But it is not just the elites who are drawn to test themselves in the event as it is famous for attracting athletes of all ages and abilities.
David Beadle is the head of physical education at Southland Girls High School. The event is part of the school's curriculum and he is bringing nine teams of three - 27 girls - across to Central Otago to compete.
"The Goldrush has a wonderful family feel to it and we have always been fantastically well supported over the years by both the organisers and other competitors," says the 50-year-old, who has been bringing students to the event for the past 10 years.
Beadle says the terrain is breathtaking, challenging and at times intimidating. It has proved a valuable challenge to help develop the confidence and self-belief of his students.
"The event provides a stern physical and mental challenge regardless of whether you are at the head or the tail of the field," he says.
"I have always believed that young people who can conquer this event can conquer anything. It gives immense personal satisfaction and an improved sense of self-worth to cross the finish line."
Beadle says the kids' involvement and achievement has often seen their parents return the following year to attempt it themselves.
The finish line is always a special place to see all comers complete the race.
"The emphasis has always been on getting all of our teams safely to the finish line," says Beadle.
"In the 10 years of Southland Girls High School competing in the event every competitor has finished and I would love to see this continue."
The organisers who created Goldrush back in 1997 would be proud to hear that the event is all about athletes achieving at their own level.
The Goldrush was inspired by the pioneers who went to Central Otago searching for gold in the 1860s.
The athletes who take on Goldrush do so with no less grit and spirit than those first pioneers.
Historic relics of those who carved the landscape accentuate the course today.
Their journey begins this morning and when they finish on Monday afternoon and into the evening they will enjoy the chance to look back on completing something special alongside their mates.
When: Tomorrow - Monday
Where: Central Otago
What: 375km, three-day multisport event
Stage 1: 1.5km run + 30km paddle.
Stage 2: 35km MTB.
Stage 3: 18km run.
Stage 4: 50km MTB.
Stage 5: 24km road bike.
Stage 6: 15km run.
Stage 7: 58km MTB.
Stage 8: 42km road bike.
Stage 9: 39km kayak.
Stage 10: 3km run + 54km road bike.
Stage 11: 12km run.