The Hawke's Bay Marathon is going from strength to strength, with more than 6000 enjoying clear skies in Hawke's Bay for the fourth year of the event.

It was a frosty morning, sunshine and a new course which greeted the 6000 athletes taking part.

The majority of the participants were from outside Hawke's Bay and while the event is known for its scenic attractions, race director Adam McDonald said that was not the main drawcard.

"It's flat as a pancake all the way," he said.

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"Most marathons are on roads. This one has the opportunity to take in the great cycle network that is around the Hawke's Bay, that is on hard-packed limestone trail and great for running.

"It is about 50 per cent on road and 50 per cent on hard-packed trail."

There was double the number of entrants running the full marathon, compared with last year, but it is the half marathon course which is the most popular.

Four thousand people started the half-marathon in a Hastings orchard, ran through Havelock North to the Tukituki River and followed it to the coast where they joined runners from the marathon and 10km run along the home stretch to Elephant Hill winery.

Air New Zealand is the main sponsor of the marathon, putting on 14 extra flights from Auckland to cater for the athletes.

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