The thick smoke that rolled into the Illawarra on Sunday morning failed to dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of participants at fund-raisers across the Illawarra.
At Stuart Park, clear skies greeted the 52 starters in the Quota Charity Bike Ride, which included top cyclists Ben Kersten and Matthew Wilson.
The 42-kilometre fund-raising ride saw cyclists ride to the Sea Cliff Bridge and back.
Organiser Glenda Greenwood said as the ride progressed, the smoke gave a dramatic backdrop.
‘‘The smoke was incredible,’’ Ms Greenwood said.
‘‘We were a little worried for the riders at one stage but overall, the weather was beautiful and everyone is looking forward to doing it again next year.’’
Further north, 400 people participated in the Burgh2Beach charity run, well up on the 260 who took part last year.
Organiser Nathan Thompson said more than $25,000 was raised for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of NSW at the run from Helensburgh to Stanwell Park.
Mr Thompson said runners were unaffected by the smoke, which descended after competitors finished. James Tunbridge was first in the eight-kilometre course in 26minutes 01 seconds.
Despite concerns of local fire, the large amount of smoke visible across the Illawarra on Sunday was due to backburning, the NSW Rural Fire Service said.
The smoke was also heavy across Sydney and the Central Coast.
NSW RFS spokesman Alex Chesser said the service was backburning large tracts of bushland as part of its containment strategy.
Mr Chesser said backburning in the region would continue for several days.
‘‘What impact it will have [in terms of smoke] will depend on the weather, as the wind can push smoke into different directions.’’