The Emerson's Whaka100 is widely considered one of the toughest mountain bike marathons in the Southern Hemisphere and one man is particularly eager for success this year.
Being held on October 25, the event in the Whakarewarewa Forest comprises a kids' 5km, women's 10km, 25km and 50km races and the feature 100km race.
A strong field of participants is returning and among them is Cosmo Bloor.
Bloor is a 24-year-old mountain biker from Auckland. He is the lead mechanic for CYCO, a bike shop in Auckland, and has been a keen rider since he was 14. If he is not at work, you will probably find him out on the trails.
He said he enjoyed how different riders from different areas could come together and race at the Whaka100.
"The closer the racing is, the more it emphasises who's faster on certain trails and who's got the power on the climbs. We end up playing cat and mouse with different guys stepping up at their favourite bit of trail which adds a really unique feature to it."
Bloor placed second in the Whaka100 in 2017 and was second in the Shootout in 2018. He had entered the 100km race four times but had only finished the race twice due to pulling out in 2018 and an injury in 2019.
He was looking forward to returning this year with a new set of goals.
"This year will be an interesting one. In 2018 I had the goal of winning it and at the time that's all I could think about. Come race day I pushed too hard chasing a goal that was probably unachievable at the time."
Bloor was in the lead bunch, just behind Tim Rush (2018 champion) but ended up pulling out and not finishing the race.
"In 2018, my only goal was winning Whaka, nothing else was on my mind. On paper, it's really easy to look at that as a failure but I'm actually really happy with lots of parts of that race."
He said he had a bit too much confidence and it was after the big climb up to Split Enz that he hit a wall.
"I gave everything to chase my goal of winning. Unfortunately that day I didn't quite have it but I'm proud I chased that goal as hard as I could until I couldn't any more."
Bloor was set to race the Whaka100 in 2019, however, faced a setback a week prior.
"About a week out from Whaka 2019 I had a really big crash in front of an audience of Junior Academy kids who I was supposed to be coaching. Still not all that sure what happened, but it seems like I came up short on a jump and fell from some height. I was pretty badly concussed and found out later on that I'd broken my arm.
"This year my goal is focused around having my best race, focusing on giving my best and seeing what that gives me results-wise. Definitely standing on the top step is the dream one day but I've got to put in the right steps first to get there."