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It is a race against and around time.
As Alexandra’s clock on the hill hit 5.45pm yesterday the stopwatch on the annual Round the Clock Race started ticking.
The large-scale event marked the start the 64th Alexandra Blossom Festival.
The race started near the Manuherikia River in the Linger and Die reserve.
It pittted teams and individuals against each other as they traversed the river and scrambled up to the hillside timepiece that has served the town since 1968 and back again.
Bent on turning in their best performances, the runners had little time to take in the panoramic view of Alexandra and nearby mountain ranges.
In the men’s individual category, race winner Joost Breuk, of Alexandra, took 10min 8sec to complete the gruelling course, narrowly beating James Brent, also of Alexandra, who posted a time of 10min 14sec.
The first woman home was Anna Yeoman, of Alexandra, who crossed the finish line in 11min 25sec.
Vania Smith was second with a time of 12min 09sec.
The race attracted individual competitors and relay teams from schools and the adult mixed relay teams included one which completed the river leg by kayak and another which used a horse.
The runners barely had time to catch their breath before the Mardi Gras swung into action at nearby Rivers Park at 6pm.
Attractions included a Mainstream FMX display, fireworks and special guest Wonkey Donkey author Craig Smith.
Festival event manager Martin McPherson said the festival was off to a fine start with good crowd numbers.
"The weather gods have been kind and it augurs well for the rest of the weekend."
Events scheduled for New Zealand’s longest-running festival continue today.
The festival had been in doubt right up until New Zealand’s move to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 on Monday, and it is potentially the largest festival to take place since the pandemic began.
Events today include the Grand Parade, complete with festival princesses, the usual assortment of themed floats, the National Gold Panning Championships and the Central Otago Whitewater Blossom Festival Canoe Polo Competition.
Events are scheduled for tomorrow include a Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe-themed country fair, the Linger and Die Mountain Bike Series and the Central Otago Whitewater Blossom Festival Kayak Slalom.
Smaller events run for the rest of the week.