OLYMPIC gold medallists will line up alongside weekend warriors at the Motatapu adventure race on Saturday.
Kiwi star cyclist Sarah Ulmer and triathlete Hamish Carter are both taking part in the massive endurance event.
But neither will compete in their gold-medal winning discipline.
Ulmer, 35, is entered in the 15km Arrowtown Miners Trail run, while Carter, 41, takes on the 47km mountain bike.
Ulmer says: “The marathon is incredible but I’ll be glad to be able to walk within six months this time as opposed to the ruin I was last year.
“To be fair, I didn’t prepare well, probably didn’t give it the respect it deserved. And I’m no runner either so it was tough.
“It is absolutely spectacular though, just gold. It’s a stunning part of the country, stunning part of the world really.
“There’s a group of us coming down and we’re making the most of it, spending five days down there,” Ulmer says.
“It will be more the wineries than jumping off things though.”
A near-record 3500 competitors will take on one of the five races in the event, held in high country between Wanaka and Arrowtown on Saturday.
It includes a killer 49km mountain run, a 42km marathon, the mountain bike, triathlon and a 15km Miners Trail mountain run.
Carter, who like Ulmer also won gold in Athens 2004, intends to be thoroughly uncompetitive in the mountain bike.
Carter says: “That’s what I enjoy the most at the moment about doing these events – not having to be competitive, not feeling I have to set the world on fire.
“But after all that racing, I’m just not very good at taking it easy.
“You get used to riding in a certain rhythm and even now I jump on a bike and I go for it.
“So last year I blew up after about an hour. This time I’ll definitely be trying to keep a lid on it, at least for the first hour,” Carter says.
“I literally have to stop myself getting into that mode. You don’t think rationally. I have to keep telling myself to relax and enjoy it.”
Together, competitors will cover enough kilometres to circumnavigate the earth.
The 1264 runners alone will complete a combined distance of 37,000km.
Aucklander Carter says: “It is probably one of the most sensational courses in the world.
“It’s unique and incredible and it’s such a friendly race. People tend to chat along the way and towards the endI’ll probably be riding alongside someone for support. I’m looking forward to just enjoying the ride.”
The 2100-place mountain bike event sold out as usual this year. Overall numbers are also close to the 2010 record and 10 per cent up on last year’s Christchurch quake-affected Motatapu.
Event director Gemma Boyle says: “While in 2010 we had a record number of bikers, this year we’ll have a record number of runners.
“We think we have a better balance across the events now,” Boyle says.
The triathlon is now a direct qualifier for the World Xterra Championships held in Hawaii in October.