Amongst the nearly 5000 participants at this weekend's Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay International Marathon will be four names more familiar than most, with celebrity chef Josh Emmet, radio and television personalities Rachel Smalley and Laura McGoldrick and Newstalk ZB newsreader Niva Retimanu amongst those lining up for the inaugural event.
McGoldrick will take on the AIA 10km event as she prepares for a tilt at the Air New Zealand Queenstown International marathon in November (running the half), Emmet will take time out from his restaurant businesses to run the NZ Sotheby's Half Marathon as will Reitmanu and Smalley will tackle the full Air New Zealand Marathon. All are united in one thing beyond the actual running - they love the Hawke's Bay and can't wait to enjoy all it has to offer.
It is not the first marathon for Smalley, but the host of daily morning news show Early Edition on Newstalk ZB is looking to complete the 42km distance for the first time at home.
"I love Hawke's Bay and this is the inaugural race so it was the obvious choice to make Hawke's Bay my first New Zealand marathon. It's a lovely part of the country and it's even better knowing that once the race is over, there will be a nice bottle of Syrah waiting for me at the end.
"I ran my first marathon in Beirut in November last year. It was part of the fundraising work I was doing with World Vision's Forgotten Millions campaign for Syrian refugees. I had six months to train and I had no idea how I was going to juggle my early morning radio programme, my family, a hectic training regime and my charity work so I asked Gaz Brown at Get Running to help me."
Indeed this is where the four media and culinary friends enjoy some commonality, with all trained by Gaz Brown at Get Running as they prepare for Saturday. Smalley says his advice has been invaluable.
"Gaz had to design a programme that would work around my 2.30am alarm clock. I host a show on NewstalkZB between 5-6am and I often limp by on 4-5 hours' sleep a night. Gaz urged me to get more sleep, looked at my nutrition and made sure I upped my hydration too. Somehow, between the two of us and the clever team of physios, sports masseuses and podiatrists at Sportslab, I managed to arrive in Beirut ready to run.
"I know Hawke's Bay will throw a few challenges at me because this time I'll be running on my own (Rachel ran with others in Beirut). I need to make sure I get my pacing, my nutrition and my hydration right. If I muck it up, I know I'll find myself in a world of pain around the 32km mark. Gaz has talked me through how to approach the race, how to pace myself and how to run to heart rate. I have been known to over-cook it a little at the start, but I really just want to enjoy this marathon and have a great weekend.
"I'm travelling with a group of people from Get Running and Gaz has put together a brilliant tour. There will be a marquee at the finish line and then later that night we're having a special celebration dinner (prepared by Emmet). The next day we'll be visiting some of the wineries and enjoying some of the great food that Hawke's Bay has to offer. Two nights isn't long enough. Next year I might lobby Gaz to stay for a week!
"My friend Niva Retimanu is here with me too. She's just written a book about her journey to becoming a marathon runner. She's doing the half in Hawke's Bay but she told me that as soon as 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. If you see a Samoan woman dressed in a crazy outfit, go and introduce yourself. That will be Niva and she loves to talk. Honestly, the more friends she has the happier she is."
A former judge on Master Chef, author of many books and the man behind the likes of award winning restaurants Madam Woo and Rata, Emmet is also a passionate runner, and with family ties to Hawke's Bay, taking part this weekend was an easy decision.
"My wife Helen's sister married a farmer from Hawke's Bay so we are often down there and in fact love any excuse to do so, with the great food, produce and restaurants that are on offer. We eat out as much as we can if we are not cooking what we catch on the farm, rabbits, venison and all that sort of thing.
"I have run a few marathons before, including New York and Queenstown, but choosing the half on this occasion is perfect, allowing me time to train in amongst time with family and business. I am told the scenery on course will be amazing so really looking forward to getting out on the course. It really helps when you have something to look at, anything to take your mind off the running at times!
"My goal is always just generally staying fit and running is a great way of doing this. Being a chef part of my job is to do a fair amount of eating, tasting and menu development so I need something to keep that in check. My goal would be to run under 1-45 for the half, hopefully I have done enough training," said Emmet.
McGoldrick is perhaps the 'rookie' of the four, as she continues her preparation towards the long term goal of running in Queenstown later this year by taking on the AIA 10km race on Saturday.
"I love Hawke's Bay and a goal of mine this year was to take part in a running event," said the popular Sky Sport host. "As I've just started running, the 10km race is perfect for someone like me! I haven't run any events before, but I've always admired people with the drive to train and complete running them.
"My goal really is just to finish comfortably and perhaps in an hour or less, 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!!
"I've been so lucky to have Gaz from Get Running, helping to cater a running programme to suit me and my level of fitness. Also having to check in with someone, be accountable and chat through my times and strategy have been such a bonus! I'm hoping that I can build from this race up to the half marathon in Queenstown later this year."