The popular big annual Raglan Rocx cross-country endurance race is officially listed as a four-hour event, but the leading challengers were so quick this year that they were each sent out for an extra lap.
And that made it a gruelling four-and-a-half hours of hard slog for the top three contenders at the weekend and an especially draining experience for solo campaigner Adrian Smith, of Mokau.
Bay of Plenty's Ben Townley and Otorohanga's Jaden Gray, sharing the riding duties on Townley's Carlton Dry Honda CRF450 motocross bike, were leading as the four-hour finish approached, but Townley zipped through the timing zone with minutes still left on the clock and this meant they were waved on to complete an eighth lap of the steep farmland course.
Raglan pair Jason Dickey and Matthew Quirke, riding a 350cc two-stroke KTM, were next to approach the finish line but the clock still had not clicked over the four hours and they were also sent out for another 33-minute lap.
Smith, riding his BikesportNZ.com Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke solo, as an ironman contestant, was through the timing zone next and he too was forced to continue back out on to the track.
With no mishaps on the additional lap, all three bikes eventually passed the chequered flag in that order, the brother-in-law pair of Townley and Gray celebrating the win, with the Dickey/Quirke duo in second overall and then ironman Smith completing the podium.
Fourth overall, with seven laps completed, were the Suzuki pairing of Mount Maunganui's Rhys Carter and Te Awamutu's Mark Penny, with the Kawasaki pairing of Cambridge men Michael Cotter and Kieran Leigh rounding out the top five.
"Aside from motocross races, this event is one of my favourites," said Townley afterwards.
"I rode the bike first and got a reasonable start, about fourth or fifth spot out of the gate, but we immediately rode into dust. I just bided my time until we got into some clear air and then made my move. Once I was in the lead I managed to pull out a bit of a gap over the chasing bunch.
"I did the first two laps and then handed the bike over to Jaden. We lost out lead during his stint but I grabbed it back for us."
The Dickey/Quirke pair were also impressive, crossing the finish line less than 30 seconds after the Townley/Gray machine, while Smith showed incredible stamina and tenacity to ride alone and still secure the No 3 position.
"I was down on horsepower on the guys ahead of me, and compared with a lot of the riders behind me too," said Smith afterwards.
"It was tough event to do on my own, but it was all good for my build-up to defend my national cross-country and enduro crowns."
The opening round of this season's New Zealand Enduro Championships is just over a week away, at Oparau, near Kawhia, on February 2 and his podium finish at the Raglan Rocx indicates that he's more than ready to defend his two No 1 rankings this season.
Townley's next big event is the 52nd annual New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville next weekend, an event he won outright last season.