In January, Marama Maxwell started a 15-week training programme with the goal of running the 10km at the Rotorua Marathon on May 2.
Some 36 weeks later, after Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns wreaked havoc, the event is finally set to go ahead and now Maxwell has the half-marathon in her sights.
She was one of 200 people who signed up for Lake City Athletic Club's Kia Tū, Kia Ora running clinic.
She and her running group, along with all the other event entrants, have had to repeatedly manage their expectations as the event date was forced to be rescheduled.
Yesterday, runners and walkers alike breathed a sigh of relief as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a move to alert level 1 for all but Auckland by 11.59pm on September 21.
Soon afterwards, Athletics New Zealand announced that meant the Rotorua Marathon could go ahead on September 26 - without the Auckland entrants, who have been offered a 50 per cent refund or transfer to next year's event.
"I was quite relieved that all my training isn't going to go to waste," Maxwell said.
"I first signed up for the 10km only but then when it got postponed I decided to train for the 21km."
She said being able to train for the longer distance was a silver lining.
"I've never been able to run this far in my life. I've got more energy, we can run more distances now. It's really cool to be part of a group, it's been so long that we're all really close now."
As the event was postponed and motivation levels ebbed and flowed, the running group became a support network.
"When the first lockdown happened and we had to train on our own, it was really hard to stay motivated. When Covid came back we were a bit anxious about it being cancelled.
"I've always been interested in running but never really had the motivation before now. [Crossing the finish line] will definitely feel amazing and a big achievement. I'm pretty sure I'll cry, I'm a very emotional person," Maxwell said.
Rotorua's Michael Voss finished third in the full 42.2km marathon at last year's event and is one of the favourites to push for first place this year.
He said it was disappointing that Auckland runners could not join the race but there would still be plenty of competition.
"It's good news it's going ahead, bit of a shame the Aucklanders can't do it but it is what it is. You sort of get used to these things these days, with everything that's happened.
"You sort of just adjust your training to suit. The way we do it is you stick to a regular routine each week, then coming into the race you just ease off a bit. I'm glad they made a decision now, you wouldn't want it to be a couple of days before."
He said he felt for event organisers throughout New Zealand who were having to cope with the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions.
"I know quite a lot of people around the country who put on events, they're all really nice people and you feel sorry for them when they have to cancel. That's their main source of income.
"I understand when they can't offer a full refund, I get a bit frustrated when people start getting funny about it. I just don't think they realise it's [the organisers'] livelihood, they've got a job to do and it's not their fault."
Athletics New Zealand chief executive Pete Pfitzinger said in a statement it was "extremely disappointing" that those based in the Auckland region would not be able to take part.
"As a long-time marathon runner, I understand the months of hard work and training that go into preparing for a marathon or half-marathon, as well as the great enjoyment gained from participating in the shorter distances.
"This decision was made after a detailed review of the Government recommendations and Sport NZ guidelines and has not been taken lightly. While Aucklanders are allowed to travel, they are encouraged to behave as if they're taking their extra restrictions with them when travelling.
"They are currently advised to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, unless attending a funeral or tangihanga."