Teams competing in the annual Oxfam Trailwalker have taken the gruelling race in their stride - and knocked hours off previous records.

Auckland team 'Buff Wait There's More!' made it over the 100km finish line with a record-breaking 12 hours and 51 minutes.

Instead of walking the tough course Zebedee Stone, Billie Haresnape, Dylan Steeples and Chris Webb ran the entire way - and finished with the expected blisters, achy limbs and fatigue.

They knocked two hours off the previous Whakatāne record of 14 hours and 32 minutes.

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After a lightning start the team led the trail all day, and ran to the finish line to an eruption of applause from the crowd.

Team leader, Zebedee Stone said making it through the gruelling distance was exhausting but rewarding.

"I've walked Oxfam Trailwalker a few times so I knew how challenging it is. Running it was definitely harder, but we've really enjoyed it and the welcome we've received from Whakatane, our support crew and the event volunteers has been fantastic.

"I feel really strongly about what Oxfam do and I believe in their work, which is a really good motivating factor - to know it's for something bigger."

The weekend event sees teams of four walk 50 kilometres in 18 hours or 100 kilometres in 36 hours to raise money for Oxfam's work fighting poverty.

A total of 168 teams set off this morning. Most of them will continue walking all night, finishing by 6pm tomorrow.

Oxfam New Zealand's Executive Director, Rachael Le Mesurier was impressed with the achievements so far.

"It's always a real thrill to watch the first team cross the line and the atmosphere from locals and volunteers cheering them on was buzzing.

"The warm welcome received from Whakatāne has been brilliant so far, as always, and will play a huge part in buoying the spirits of tired walkers.

The first team to cross the 50km line was Auckland team Taking It Easy, in 10 hours 31 minutes.

Once the teams have rested they will continue to fundraise until the cut-off in April.

Oxfam Trailwalker has so far raised almost half a million dollars to support Oxfam's humanitarian and long-term development work in some of the world's poorest countries.