Almost every child who participated in the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon yesterday was greeted with a hi-five, a huge smile and compliment from Olympic shot putter Valerie Adams.
"Congratulations buddy, how did you find that?" the double Olympic gold medallist inquired to those as she placed a medal around their necks.
Adams and other New Zealand athletes Cameron Brown, Sarah Goss and Tri NZ High Performance Squad Member Hamish Miller gave all 930 children their own medals as they made their final strides across the finish line.
Although drizzle and low cloud sat over Mount Maunganui most of the morning it did not dampen the spirits of the participants and the family members, friends and volunteers cheering them on as they swam between 50m and 200m in Pilot Bay, cycled 4km to 8km and ran 1.5km along The Mall.
Ten-year-old Keira Towers-Woodhead said she was nervous for the swimming component of the friendly race.
"I'm not the best swimmer and it was cold, but I did it," she said after the race with a huge smile on her face.
The bike ride was the favourite part of TRYathlon as "you don't use up too much energy".
The Otumoetai Intermediate student hoped to take part in the event again next year, she said.
Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon national ambassador Valerie Adams said it was important for athletes to inspire and support the next generation.
Adams said as a child her family had limited resources but they were still a sporty family. She and her siblings would be outside every day playing hopscotch, elastics and jump rope. Today children were stuck inside after school playing on electronic toys, she said.
Adams said it was important to inspire today's youth to get outside to live happier and healthier lives and the event gave children a boost of confidence too.
"Self-esteem for kids, or anyone for that matter, is so important and a great way to build self-esteem is to set goals and go about trying to achieve them."
Impact PR director Mark Devlin said 930 children participated in the third of 16 friendly races across the country, about 100 more than last year's race.
He expected 25,000 children to take part nationally.
Yesterday's event had a good mix of locals, holidaymakers and families who brought their children in from outside the Bay of Plenty with a number of last-minute entrants too, he said.
"The whole concept is that every kid is a winner," he said.
The race was supported by 168 local volunteers who too cheered along the children as they gave it their all, he said.