Seasoned ultrarunners like to use that famous Alfred Wainwright quote: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing."
With all due respect to Mr Wainwright, I'm sure a lot of runners at last weekend's Tarawera Ultramarathon and 100 Mile Endurance Run would beg to differ.
There was most definitely bad weather when a massive tropical storm hit the Bay of Plenty late last week and all through the weekend, turning the trails that comprise the ultramarathon course into an absolute mud bath (and I know Rotorua is well known for those but this was just another level).
More than 1000 runners from 57 different countries battled the storm to cross the finish line of the 10th anniversary of the Tarawera race in the 62, 87, 102km distances as well as the inaugural 100 mile race, this year centred around the Government Gardens.
The 100 Miler runners braved particularly harsh conditions, with the 4am race start on Saturday then seeing them run through day and night and then day again, most of the time under torrential rain.
The race attracted runners from all over the world, including some of the world's best elite ultrarunners. US runner Dylan Bowman took the win in the 102km race for the men, while US woman Kelly Wolf won the race for women.
The 100 Mile race proved too big a challenge for nearly half of its initial 140-strong field. US runner Sally McRae took the win for women while Frenchman Adrian Prigent won the men's race.
Grant Guise from Dunedin took second place in the 100 Mile race, while Andy Palmer from Auckland completed the podium in third place.
In the women's 100 Mile race, Hannah McRae from Australia came second, with Porirua's Jean Beaumont taking third.
The inhospitable weather was balanced out by the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters who lined the trails to cheer on the runners over many hours, through day and night.
Race director Tim Day says the weather made it extra challenging but everyone rose to it.
"Obviously these have been very challenging conditions – especially for the 100-milers overnight, and particularly when they joined the course that the 62km, 87km and 102km participants had already been over," he said.
"Even though conditions have been less than ideal, the feedback on the inaugural event has been amazing – the athletes have really loved it – and they haven't even seen it in all the scenic beauty that we know and love.
"This is an epic achievement for every participant – elite or otherwise. There have been many happy tears from finishers, spectators, staff and volunteers alike. There was hardly a dry eye in the house every time someone crossed the line."
The race, part of the Ultra Trail World Tour series, has now cemented its status as one of the top in the world and firmly placed New Zealand, and more specifically Rotorua, as a top destination for endurance trail running.
Tarawera 100 Mile Endurance Run:
1. Adrien Prigent (France) 19:38:32
2. Grant Guise (NZ) 20:08:32
3. Andy Palmer (NZ) 20:48:08
1. Sally McRae (USA) 21:11:10
2. Hannah McRae (Australia) 21:42:39
3. Jean Beaumont (NZ) 23:54:55
Tarawera Ultramarathon 102km:
1. Dylan Bowman (USA) 08:27:41
2. Cody Reed (USA) 8:36:35
3. Sam McCutcheon (NZ) 08:45:16
1. Kelly Wolf (USA) 10:08:45
2. Amanda Basham (USA) 10:17:39
3. Erika Lori (Australia) 10:53:21
Tarawera Ultramarathon 87km:
1. Joris Kiredjian (France) 08:25:11
2. Richard Coghlan (Japan) 08:27:29
3. Stewart Milne (NZ) 09:19:37
1. Kristen Brace (Australia) 10:43:24
2. Elizabeth Palmer (NZ) 12:11:43
3. Lisa Hiscock (Australia) 12:30:37
Tarawera Ultramarathon 62km:
1. Vaijin Armstrong (NZ) 05:36:18
2. Chris Dunell (NZ) 05:36:26
3. Gene Beveridge (NZ) 05:45:32
1. Lucy Bartholomew (Australia) 05:37:34
2. Nancy Jiang (NZ) 06:17:01
3. Sophie Brown (Australia) 06:34:02