A thousand participants in the 2012 New World Marlborough Marathon is a mere handful compared to the number of contestants Jules Taylor expected to run against this month.
On October 31 she and a friend, fellow runner Hanna Eradus had flown to the United States for the 2012 New York Marathon. It typically draws 35,000 entries from around the world and this year organisers had assured entrants the race wouldn't be interrupted by Hurricane Sandy which had just wreaked havoc in New York.
On Sunday, November 4, Jules and Hanna were phoned by their tour organiser and told the race was cancelled.
"I totally understand why they did it," says Jules, a Marlborough winemaker, and mother of two sons. "The devastation over there was pretty evident . . . there was no water, no power and here we are, [expecting] drink stations to be set up. We had started to feel we might have problems."
News of the cancellation was devastating, though, meaning the once-in-a-lifetime adventure for many was lost forever.
"There were people in our group who don't travel at all . . . and it was their trip of a lifetime, to run the New York Marathon."
Jules doesn't think she will ever enter it again.
Her long-distance running ventures started four years ago when she entered the Saint Clair Half Marathon.
"I was the person who didn't really run."
Determined to beat her previous 2.75 kilometre record distance, she downloaded a training programme off the computer and 12 weeks later completed the 21km race. A 18-week training programme from the same source had her ready to tackle the New York Marathon.
"It's really do-able; four days a week [running] and some cross-training in-between.
"Every two weeks you increase your long run, then the next week it's shorter."
Thirty-five kilometres was her longest training run and she was confident of completing the 42km marathon in New York.
She and Hanna got a feel for how it might have been by running around Central Park a few times, but they didn't tackle the whole course.
"There was no one cheering and it didn't really feel like the real thing," she says.
On Saturday, December 1, Jules will only be doing the half-marathon section of the Marlborough Marathon. Why not the whole distance?
She smiles. "I only wanted to do one [full] marathon and I wanted to do it in New York."
Top of the South Events director and Marlborough marathon organiser Pete Halligan says 110 runners have registered for the 42km race; 500 for the half-marathon, 300 for a 10km circuit and 100 the 5km.
Supporting them will be an army of volunteers from a range of community groups, including Rotary, St John, Scouts and amateur radio.
Contestants range from the elite sportsmen and women who will battle for the winning places, to the "weekend warriors" keen to beat their personal best times and the more casual "social" groups.
Pete loves the sense of adrenalin that unites them all when hundreds gather for a shared challenge.
"I love seeing that nervousness, that excitement after all the training that's gone into preparing for the day."
- The Marlborough Express