Next February, athletes from around New Zealand will descend on Whanganui for the Downer NZ Masters Games, the country's largest and longest-running multi-sport event.
Despite closing the competition to international competitors in 2021, entries are already up on last year. Football and water-skiing are already at capacity and organisers are urging people to register themselves or a team as soon as they can.
Games manager Rachel O'Connor partly attributes the abundance of registrations to the lack of events around the country.
"Because of Covid it's seen a lot of events cancelled," she said. "For people that are used to training for something, the calendar is looking a bit more sparse than normal so it's great to have it on the calendar for February.
"If you are looking at getting a team together I would recommend touch rugby, it is competitive and social. There is also a corporate team-building activity that finishes with a quiz and some nibbles. A cool thing to do with your workplace."
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As with previous years, the "games hub" is at the War Memorial forecourt in the middle of town. The Masters Games run over 10 days and utilise a number of sports grounds around Whanganui. The close proximity of the sports grounds to each other is a major plus.
"The place is going to be a hive of activity," O'Connor said. "If you are driving around Whanganui over those 10 days you'll see a lot of activity at most sports grounds around the city."
This year the focus for the games is people connecting. There are 56 sports and activities on offer and while competition is fierce, games organisers say there's truly something for everyone.
"We want to be accessible to everyone regardless of your age which is why we've got things like jigsaw puzzle racing. You can come and participate, still be part of the games in the culture and do some puzzle racing - for a maximum of nine hours to complete your puzzle."
And while it is called the Masters Games, some masters sports like gymnastics and swimming are younger than others, with the youngest competitor registered so far being in their early 20s.
And of course, women are included too. Though the event is not called Masters and Mistresses, for good reason, all sports are open to women as well.
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