Organisers of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast race have teamed up with a global environment group to ensure the iconic event leaves no trace upon the spectacular South Island countryside it traverses.
The annual multisport event, held next weekend, has become the first in the country to join forces with Leave No Trace New Zealand, part of an international movement to protect the outdoors by encouraging people not to leave any waste behind.
The effort was seen as a fitting one for the running, cycling and kayaking race, which crosses mountains, rivers and valleys in a dramatic 243km course stretching from Kumara beach on the West Coast to its end at New Brighton beach on the East Coast.
While the first race in 1983 involved only 79 athletes, the field had since exploded - and to date, more than 18,000 people have completed the course.
"We're renowned in New Zealand for our dramatic scenery, natural landscapes, flora and fauna and the unique race location is one of the most stunning courses in the world," Leave No Trace founder Chris North said.
"The team behind the event share our values and are passionate about educating the competitors to make sure it stays just as beautiful post-event. We encourage other events and promoters to follow in these guys' footsteps."
North said the partnership aimed to show that large events could take "tangible steps" to educate participants about leaving no trace.
"Our work together will not just target the day of the race but also get competitors to look at the extensive training they do around the country - resulting in reduced impacts everywhere."
We are also hoping that greater environmental awareness will help the competitors to become part of a wider movement to take better care of our amazing outdoor environments."
The group primarily pushed seven messages: planning ahead, travelling and camping on durable ground, disposing of waste properly, leaving what was found, minimising the effects of fire, respecting wildlife and being considerate of others.
"Leave No Trace's mission is directly in line with ours for the race; to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation," said race director Richard Ussher, who has won the event himself five times.
"Their principles clearly articulate simple but important things to remember when outdoors whether racing, training, camping or whatever and wherever your adventure may be.
"Signing up as the first official New Zealand event partner is a responsibility we value greatly and will help to ensure the land remains intact and continue to host hundreds of athletes on the same course for another 33 years."
Kathmandu marketing manager Tim Loftus said the sponsor company had also brought in a local firm, Our Daily Waste, which specialised in event waste education and recycling separation to manage waste and any litter at the finish line.
"The race runs through some of the most stunning scenery in the world, so we're highly focused on looking after the course using the seven Leave No Trace principles'."