Thousands of steps were taken in the recovery of Christchurch on Sunday with more than 8,000 runners celebrating the return of the iconic City2Surf event.
Just hours after the Crusaders made a triumphant homecoming to the quake-batted city, the sun was shining as red and black favourite Todd Blackadder sounded the hooter at Centennial Park to signal a new era for the city's traditional fun run.
Thousands flocked to cheer on the runners, joggers, and walkers of all abilities, ages, shapes and sizes as they tackled the new route - just over 14km for the main event, as well as the 6km Heart Foundation course - winding along the banks of the Heathcote River.
And after all the sweaty bodies passed the finishing line at Ferrymead Park and collected their drink and prized certificate of achievement, organisers hailed the 37th running of the event a resounding success.
Steve McCaughan, general manager of The Star, said the return of the City2Surf was another step towards post-quake recovery for Cantabrians after the event was postponed last year because of the February 22 earthquake.
"There was a very positive vibe on the day, especially having the Crusaders winning their first game back in the city the night before," he says.
"It was so good to see these two events - the rugby and the City2Surf - back up and running at the weekend.
"Tradition is important in city values and it's all part of our recovery process."
Mark Bailey of the New Brighton Olympic Athletic Club crossed the line first in 46 minutes flat, in a time described by Mr McCaughan as "a staggeringly good effort," running at an average speed of nearly 18km/h.
While the City2Surf attracted top runners, the event is aimed at getting everyone to participate either on the challenging 14km route or the Heart Foundation 6km option.
"We had all sorts and that is what the City2Surf is all about - participation and achievement from all walks of like," Mr McCaughan said.
"The crowd who turned out to cheer everyone on was incredible, it stirred people on just when things started getting tough."
He also received "fantastic feedback" on the new route but a decision on whether it could be used next year was still undecided, with a number of factors yet to be considered.
Organisers also accepted that there were some minor logistical areas that could be improved for 2013, and they are working hard to get it right for next year.
Mr McCaughan also praised the sponsors, as well as the 200-plus volunteers and marshalls - including members of the local Lions and Rotary clubs - which helped make the event a "stunning success".