It was a sight to behold as more than 1000 people took their bikes for a spin down a runway normally reserved just for planes.

The unique Rotorua Bike Festival event Ride the Runway yesterday proved a big hit, with a 40 per cent increase in participation from last year.

Organiser Jason Cameron said about 1700 people, including spectators, were at the Runway Project event and about 1300 took part in the QE Health Ride the Runway.

Mr Cameron said each lap of Ride the Runway was 4km in total - going down the length of the runway and back again.


And the bikes were just as varied as their riders, with a penny farthing rider and an 80-year-old man who said he just wanted to be a part of it and ride, among the throngs.

The Sulphur City Steam Rollers acted as the marshalls and cheerleaders, while sponsor Air New Zealand handed out slushies.

With the temperatures well into the 20s, the airport's fire truck blasted some spare water onto the crowd as the ride ended.

Mr Cameron said 60 people then took part in the Holland Beckett Lawyers People's Flying Kilo race - a new event this year.

Mr Cameron said the Holland Beckett Lawyers Elite Flying Kilo saw a field of 12 in the women's category and 20 in the mens - a 1km sprint.

The winner of the women's elite race was local Sarah Pitcher-Campbell, while the men's elite race was taken out by Zac Williams, who is the current Oceania Kilo champion.

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Ride the Runway participant Teresa Wilson said it was excellent and great fun on a beautiful, hot day.

"It was great to see the number of families and kids."

Rotorua Bike Festival media manager Graeme Simpson said the first weekend had been exceptional and he thought the festival would easily exceed the 5000 entries overall from last year.

So far, the events had broken all records from previous years and the first three days had around 4000 entries across all events, he said.

Rotorua Airport Fire and Operations manager John Harrison said the day went really well and was great to be a part of.

He said it was a unique opportunity as not many airports would close for cycling events.

Monday's festival events include the Bike Speedway at the Government Gardens from 5pm to 8pm and The Big Bike Film Night at The Blue Baths.

The Big Bike Film Night will show the best cycling short films from around the world and includes a matinee at 3pm and an evening screening at 7pm.