WELLINGTON, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Runners and walkers of all abilities and experience levels are set to descend on one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand this weekend when the iconic Rotorua Marathon is held for the 57th time on Saturday.
With around 4,000 entrants expected to take part, it is set to be the most popular Rotorua Marathon since the 50th-anniversary celebrations seven years ago. The thousands of entrants will take on the challenge of either the full marathon, half marathon, 10km or 5.5km distances.
This year's edition of the event - which is famous for its stunning scenery across the various race options around Lake Rotorua, the beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest, Sulphur Flats and Government Gardens - is of further note as, with the entirety of New Zealand now at alert level 1, entrants from all regions are able to take part.
And with the trans-Tasman travel bubble now open, a number of Australians are also coming from across the ditch to take on the challenge.
"The Rotorua Marathon is truly one of the most iconic and historic running events in New Zealand," Athletics NZ CEO Peter Pfitzinger said.
"We are fortunate in this country to be able to host a mass participation event of this size as similar events in other parts of the world are still not being held or greatly impacted by the ongoing pandemic. So it is wonderful to see such high numbers taking part and we are delighted to welcome entrants from all regions, which wasn't possible last year due to the restrictions on mass gatherings and travel," he added.
"It is also great to see some Australians take the opportunity to enter and we are looking forward to providing them with our Kiwi hospitality in Rotorua."
The event is also hugely welcomed by the district with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick saying it continues to attract thousands of visitors, as well as capturing the imagination of the locals.
"This event means a lot to our community, including our local businesses, so it's really great that in today's uncertain times we are able to host thousands of visitors from all around the country," Chadwick said.
"The event has evolved over the years to become a very inclusive affair with everyone able to participate and I'm sure that's another reason why people keep coming," she added.
"Rotorua locals love hosting this iconic event and will give all participants and their supporters a very warm welcome and plenty of support."
The different race options will serve up a whole range of participants from octogenarian walkers and novice runners, to experienced club members as they all take on the challenge of meeting a range of personal goals, from health and fitness reasons to raising money for dozens of charitable causes.
The event has again attracted plenty of elite-quality with a number of high-class runners in the fields for both the marathon and half-marathon.
Rotorua, on New Zealand's North Island, is well-known for its fascinating geothermal activity, Maori culture, hot springs and mud pools.