After finally making it to the starting line, Pauanui Half Marathon organisers have created a near-full lineup in their first year.
On Saturday, December 5, up to 700 athletes will run the 21km, 10km or 5km course.
Amanda Iggulden says she and co-organisers Matty Kerr and Georgina Bond are excited to be able to showcase the area they all regularly get to run and enjoy.
The 21km course takes in some of the best sites at this all-time popular holiday spot: the surf beach, the Pauanui Airfield, the Pauanui Waterways and the off-road forest and estuary-side track of the Pauanui-Tairua trail.
There are options to walk all distances, starting and finishing on the beachfront by the Pauanui Surf Lifesaving Club.
Entries were capped and there are only a few places left.
"Given the year we've had and the fact we've had to transfer nearly 100 people to our March 2021 event because they couldn't come in November, we feel that's quite a good result for our first event," says Amanda.
She thanked the 50 volunteers doing various roles and said local business sponsors had been terrific.
"The event wouldn't be possible without such strong support from the community."
Triathlete Matt Kerr took out first place in the Taupō Half Ironman amateur division late last year and like all top athletes, has had to find motivation outside of participating in events this year to stay on top of his game.
Matty, a teacher at Whangamata Area School, had planned to compete in the Half Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in November 2021 as a pro.
A half ironman is a 2km swim, 90km bike and 21km run and Matt has completed it in 4 hours 8 minutes.
Despite the uncertainty due to Covid event postponements and cancellations, his training still involves getting out of bed and on the road by 5am.
While was limited in the swim training through winter due to lockdown, he made the most of the running and cycling, where he says he made efficiency gains.
"We've got a lot of great terrain around here, other than a pool in town we've got everything - forest, ocean and the roads are reasonably okay to ride on. I've also been mountain biking, including mountain biking with the students."
Matt is coached by former triathlete and AUT professor Grant Schofield, who has a house in Tairua and is, like Matt, involved in the Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club.
Matt is now sharing the knowledge he's gained from Grant with WAS students and a handful of Tairua runners mostly associated with the Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club.
One of them, part-time Tairua resident Emily Stephens, placed third in the Queenstown Marathon - her first ever marathon - and won her 20-29 year age group in a time of 3:06:58.
Thankfully for those with an eye to taking out a top place at the event in Pauanui, neither Matt nor Emily will be competing. Emily's next event is aptly named the Suffer, in Rotorua.
Matt says he enjoys sharing what he's learned thanks to the coaching he's received himself.
"There's a lot of myths out there [with running training]. I've acquired knowledge on racing and training from what Grant is doing with me, and there are people aspiring to be better than they are. So if there's an opportunity to provide people with structure and a helping hand, why would you not?" he says.
- The Pauanui Half Marathon course and a basic training schedule is online at www.pauanuihalf.co.nz