Robin Judkins reckons that New Zealand is slowly moving out of its economic recession.
He bases his prediction on running the iconic Coast to Coast multisport race for 30 years and negotiating the event through three recessions all of which have had a dramatic affect on entries for his annual race from Kumara Beach to Sumner Beach.
He says this recession is the "biggest of the biggest" but he is hopeful it is receding.
Entries opened last month for the 2013 race and at this stage he has 261.
"That is 10 more than I had at the same time last year and if entries continue at the same level I should have 620 for next year's race."
This year's race attracted 552 entries.
Judkins said that since 2010 entries for the race had dropped 7 1/2 per cent each year.
It is a far cry from the days when multisporters sat poised at their computers to get their entries in the day they opened, and by day's end the race was virtually full and hundreds were placed on waiting lists.
"I'm thrilled with the entries I've got. I've been through two recessions, a sharemarket crash and the Asian crisis of 1997-98. I measure the depth of a recession by how long it takes me to dig out of them. I was hoping like hell that I bottomed this year when I had 552 entries.
"All I can do is promote the race like hell. It's the only thing you can do and you hope like hell the event hasn't lost its allure."
Judkins said he has had to be innovative to keep the event in front of potential competitors.
"Today I gave the final OK to this year's cinema release of a documentary of this year's race.
"I did it with last year's race and trialled it around New Zealand and did 22 cities with 28 showings, and every showing apart from three there were full houses."
There has also been a huge increase in the number of people who have watched the event live.
"In five years I have increased from 1.5 million hits to 16.6 million over the weekend.
"You just have to keep going at it. I'm in the process of doing an upgrade to my website at the moment. It will be the third upgrade in 21 years."
Judkins said next year the event would be opened to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time.
"I have trialled it for five years with school teams. That was very successful. In fact the teams did so well that they made the adults look embarrassed.
"Next year they will be able to do the two-day event in either a team or as an individual, and that's already had a good pickup."
This year the top two schoolboy teams would have finished fourth and fifth in the men's open teams division and the top schoolgirl teams would have been second just 9min 50sec behind the open women winners.
Judkins said he has strong competition from other multisport events.
"At Queen's Birthday I went to Rotorua to watch an event called the 3D. It had 1000 multisporters in it and the ages – you'll love this – ranged from 5 years to 75.
"It was a graduated event that had sections for 5-year-olds. They did a wee mountain run of a couple of kilometres but it was fun watching 5-year-olds do it," said Judkins.
- © Fairfax NZ News