The 2020 Whaka100, New Zealand's premier mountain bike marathon, has attracted a record field in terms of quanity and the quality of riders.
All up 600 riders will tackl the 100km event and more than 1800 will toe the line across the five MTB events on offer.
The popularity of the marathon has been mirrored in the depth of the elite fields too, with Covid-19 putting the Whaka100 firmly on the bucket list of top professional athletes from across a variety of cycling and multisport disciplines.
Race director Tim Farmer said 2020 had ended up being a big year for the event and for riders from around New Zealand.
"Covid-19 certainly threw us a few curve balls, however one of the positives is that it has helped to give us the best field we've ever seen.
"Normally lots of our pro athletes would be overseas racing or recovering from their northern hemisphere campaign at this time of year, but with many staying safe and staying home they've finally got a chance to tackle the Whaka100 and put another tick on their bucklist of iconic New Zealand events.
"All up we've got over 60 elite riders entered from the road, mountain biking, and multisport scenes all lining up to see who's the toughest – I can't wait."
In the men's elite field, defending champion Tim Rush is back to see if he can make it three wins from three events. Standing in his way is the deepest men's field assembled for the race including star Ironman triathlete Terrenzo Bozzone, Enduro World Series campaigner Sam Shaw, Pan American Xterra champion Sam Osbourne, and Coast to Coast legend Sam Clark.
In the women's field, marathon specialist Josie Wilcox is back after a break last year to see if she can take a third title to go with her emphatic wins in 2017 and 2018.
Keeping Wilcox honest will be 2005 World Mountain Running Champion Kate McIlroy, who also has a top 10 finish at the 2012 London Olympics in triathlon and a third place in the Elite Road Cycling Nationals to her name. A potential wild card in the womens race is Xterra Asia Pacific champion Samantha Kingsford.
All the action kicks off at the Waipa MTB Hub on Friday night with the elite Fat Tyre Criterium and runs all the way through the weekend with the We Run the Forest trail running events on Saturday and the Whaka100 (and other distances) rolling out from 7.45am onwards on Sunday.
All up more than 3500 athletes will be taking part across the weekend with more than 90 per cent coming from outside of Rotorua.
In addition to the racing their will be a mini MTB expo and food and drink options for participants and spectators to enjoy.