As fun runs fell by the wayside throughout Australia in 2020, competitive and recreational runners have been desperate for something to scratch that itch.
The Launceston Running Festival timed its run to perfection, with its delayed mid-December start occurring just in time for borders to open and mainland visitors to flood in.
Organisers estimate there were five-times more interstate competitors than in previous events in Launceston, providing much-needed visitor numbers for an events-starved city.
Race director Richard Welsh said they were delighted with the turnout.
"This was probably one of the biggest fun runs in Australia since COVID, and in Tasmania since Hobart in February," he said.
"Who would've thought Tasmania would host two of the biggest runs in Australia for the year, but that's 2020 for you.
"Tasmania is really spoilt for choice with road races."
The event was originally planned to be held in June, but was among the first to announce it would be delayed as COVID restrictions started to bite.
The delay could have hurt the momentum for the Running Festival, which was attempting to grow as an alternative to the cancelled Launceston Ten, and following on from the Tasmanian Running Festival of 2019.
Mr Welsh said the success of the 2020 event, in which almost 1500 people took part, showed that it could be a drawcard in the annual events calendar in the future.
"People were really keen for something - Australia has a huge community of people who take part in running events - and so we were able to build relationships, generate some hype, utilise word-of-mouth and get our message out there to find people to come and participate," he said.
"It proved to be quite easy to get people to come down and be a part of it this year.
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"Tasmania has always had a good reputation for solid road races and fun runs. The Burnie Ten was really a pioneer of that, then Launceston joined in later in the 2000s, you have the Cadbury Marathon and the Point to Pinnacle as well.
"We showed today that it's only going to go from strength to strength."
From 6.30am, about 400 people took part in the half-marathon, taking runners up the West Tamar Highway to Tailrace, before they turned and came back around to Invermay to head up the East Tamar Highway.
Rio Olympian Brett Robinson set one of the fastest times on Australian soil, proving the quick pace of the Launceston event.
The 10-kilometre, five-kilometre and one-mile events then took place from 8.20am, along variants of the same course on the eastern side of the Tamar.
The half-marathon will remain a feature of the festival in 2021, when it returns to the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June.
Mr Welsh said that the more the event grew, the further its message of healthy lifestyles would spread.
"About two-thirds of us are overweight or obese, so events like this really give people something to strive for," he said.
"This is all about community and giving people the opportunity to have a reset of their own lifestyles.