If you were not familiar with Rotorua's annual relay event, Ekiden, it may have taken you by surprise to see clowns, zombies, rockstars or even men dressed as Disney Princesses running around Lake Rotorua on Saturday.

About 250 teams entered the event this year which saw about 1500 people joining in to celebrate 15 years of the event in Rotorua.

The relay was a 42.2km journey that started and finished at the Village Green and was broken up into six legs around Lake Rotorua.

Organiser Martin Croft said the day was "fantastic" and it was great to see so much colour as many teams opted to take part in the fancy dress component of the event.

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"So many teams have dressed up again, which seems to be a very popular choice," he said.

Croft said it was amazing to see so many teams returning to the annual event and had heard there were a few teams that had taken part every year since the race started 15 years ago.

A few new ideas had been added to the event this year including letting teams pick a theme song which played when they crossed the finish line, having a comedian perform before and after the race and a yoga warm up.

About 100 locals had volunteered to help the event run smoothly and Croft said the race would not continue to grow if it was not for their support.

"It's great to see the volunteers dressing up and keeping people entertained," he said.

A team of Monarch Butterflies from the Hamilton Road Runners had a lot of fun running around the lake.

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Debbie Knowles had entered the event a few times before and said the Hamilton Road Runners had six teams participating this time around.

The orange and black butterflies were hoping to with the best dressed competition as they were second last year, when they dressed as colourful butterflies.

"It's absolutely fabulous," she said.