A glorious Rotorua day provided the perfect conditions for one of the most challenging races on the mountain calendar - the NDuro Whaka 100 mountain bike race.
And in a thrilling contest, over 100km of world-class mountain bike trail network in the Whakarewarewa Forest, the coveted title was won by Wellington's Jack Compton, 20, in a somewhat unexpected result.
Compton finished in a winning time of 5h 21m 40s.
The top seed - Olympian and U23 XCO world champion Sam Gaze - fell short of the leading pack early on after struggling with a suspected injury from the previous days time trials.
Compton seized his opportunity and led from the front, crossing the line over seven minutes faster than fellow Wellingtonian Edwin Crossling who finished second in a time of 5h 29m 13s.
The winning rider, who has been away recently competing in Europe, admitted it was a "surprise" to win the gruelling endurance title after only making "a last minute" decision to enter into the race.
"I signed up very late and I'm so glad I did," he said.
"I'm over the moon. I didn't expect it at all. I haven't been training a lot recently and I know Gaze is ridiculously strong.
"But when he dropped off I felt good and I thought that Edwin was suffering a bit around 75km.
"The last 10km was the hardest part of the race. You are so close to the finish line but you have to muddle around on the single track course for the last bit and mentally it's so hard.
"I am definitely going to have the next couple of weeks off completely after that."
Second-placed Crossling, 30, said he was "quite happy" with the result after breaking his collar bone just two months ago.
But he admitted he was left with a "bittersweet" feeling as he also finished second in last year's contest.
"It was incredibly tough and the last 15km were an absolute killer," he said.
"But I am pleased considering the injury I sustained.
"I have to be honest I am left with a "bittersweet" taste though. I'm a never stop trying kind of guy so I'll be back again next year- maybe third time lucky for me."
Wellington also dominated in the women's field with Kim Hurst taking the title in 6h 45m and 26s with Australian elite XC racer Karen Hill taking second and multi-time world marathon championships representative Jeanette Gerrie in third.
It was a remarkable result for Hurst, also known as Upper Hutt's fastest doctor, after she suffered a pelvic fracture from a heavy crash in Moab earlier this year.
"I was always going to work hard to get in the right condition for this because Whaka 100 is one of my favourite Kiwi events," said Hurst.
"It is definitely the hardest course in the country right now."
In total Whaka 100, celebrating its 10th anniversary, had 400 mountain bikers battling for the honours of completing "one of the toughest" races in the country.
And there were also kids' events, and shorter tracks of 15, 25, and 50km events.
For all the race results visit www.nduro.co.nz - whaka100.