Supporters of New Zealand Olympic racewalker Quentin Rew are walking with him every step of the way this morning – from his local Wellington pub.
The Olympic racewalking event kicked off at about 8.30am New Zealand time, with Quentin Rew representing New Zealand on the starting line in Tokyo.
At Wellington pub the Realm, down the road from his parent's home in Hataitai, friends and supporters are walking alongside Rew for the full 50km race, on a treadmill set up beneath the live event.
University friend and organiser Josh Dry said it was the third time they had racewalked with Rew during his Olympic event, and the idea had first come to them before the London 2012 Olympics.
"It was probably something stupid I said over a few beers with Quentin, something along the lines of 'we'll walk with you'."
"So we bring a treadmill down to the Realm and set it at Quentin's PB pace which is the NZ national record – three hours 46."
With the treadmill set at over 13km/h, most supporters only managed several steps at a walking pace before having to jog.
"As you can tell we're not athletes, but we do our best to try and keep up," Dry said.
"But we have a lot more transitions and a lot more people who have never set foot on a treadmill anywhere close to this pace before."
"It's a good opportunity to show people how fast these guys are and get a bit more awareness of what the race walkers put themselves through."
Up-and-coming racewalker Daniel Deu-toit, who was mentored by Rew, managed several kilometers at Quentin's PB racewalking pace.
"It's supposed to be my rest day today but it's good to be out here to support Quentin," he said.
"I've been walking for a couple of years and Quentin's always been a big motivation and inspiration for me."
Quentin's parents Martyn and Marcia Rew, who had intended to be watching the event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, were also at the Realm.
"We had a group of about a dozen that were all going to be in Japan for the event, but all those plans got cancelled for a lot of people," Martyn said.
Although they would have loved to watch the event in person, Marcia said it was fantastic to see so many people take a day off work to support Quentin from the Realm.
"It's awe-inspiring what these men and women do in the racewalking, it's just so incredible."
Quentin Rew is expected to cross the finish line on Friday morning, New Zealand time.