The name Dale Warrender is synonymous with success at the Auckland Marathon.
The Aucklander is a three-time champion of the marathon (2004, 2006 and 2010) and the record-holder of the IAAF certified course in 2:17.43.
He has claimed the half marathon title on five occasions (1996, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008). The 38-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down and is the overwhelming favourite to claim the honours in tomorrow's main event.
The defending champion is not worried by the tag of favourite and is full of confidence on the back of his phenomenal track record. "I don't see it as pressure," said Warrender.
"If you have done the training and done all the necessary things to be in your best shape on the day, then things should happen naturally on the race track. Even though I won last year, I felt a little flat from the start. But I am training well and I am hoping for another sub-2.20 performance."
Warrender knows that experience in all conditions on the course - which has two distinct halves - is a huge asset.
"It is definitely beneficial with this marathon as weather conditions can play havoc in the later part of the course, and also getting over the hilly section of the course in one piece is important.
"I love running this event. It's a great New Zealand event and the crowd support is fantastic all the way around the course. Hopefully it's OK weather. My goal is to win and recover well before heading to Japan."
Warrender will face tough competition from Steven O'Callaghan, who has finished runner-up at the Rotorua Marathon a few times, and Phil Costley, who has previously run a blistering 2:13 marathon.
Costley won the event in 2005 in 2:22.07. Australian David Criniti and O'Callaghan may be the men to stop Warrender going back-to-back.
Meanwhile, in the women's marathon, the field is pretty even, with Shireen Crumpton expected to lead the way ahead of Australian champion Kirsten Molloy and an in-form Lisa Robertson.
"I guess like all runners I'd like to win," said Crumpton. "I have had strong performances in Auckland. I like the undulating nature of the course; it breaks up the monotony of running long distances and gives you something else to focus on."
For the organisers, the course presents its own challenges.
"In terms of planning and implementation, there is unlikely to be a more demanding road course in New Zealand," said course director Chayne Zinsli.
"We traverse quiet urban streets, major arterial routes, a State Highway and the Auckland Harbour Bridge - all within New Zealand's largest city."
But the popularity of the event is undeniable. The full marathon sold out in less than five weeks and, with transfers from the half marathon up to the marathon at more than 3000 entrants, it will be the largest marathon field to assemble in New Zealand since the 1994 Rotorua Marathon.
Men: 2:17.43 Dale Warrender 2006
Women: 2:45.51 Shireen Crumpton 2010
Men: 1:06:19 Matt Smith 2009
Women: 1:13.08 Danielle Trevis 2010 15,500entries
On the course
litres of water at the aid stations
road cones on the course