More than 200 athletes will be toeing the start line at the Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival in Rotorua this weekend, including one of New Zealand's Under 19 Elite triathlon stars, Mikayla Nielson from Hamilton.
The Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival is held every Anniversary Weekend in Rotorua, with a range of events for serious and fun competitors alike, including a reverse aquathlon, 2km across-the-lake swim, a 750m swim, fun run and sprint triathlon. It is organised by the local Rotorua Association of Triathletes.
Competitors race for titles in each of the events, as well as the ultimate King and Queen of the Lake titles for the best athlete across the three key races - aquathlon, across-the-lake swim and sprint triathlon.
Event manager Charlotte Pearson says the women's field will be the one to watch this year, with a number of strong contenders for the overall Queen of the Lake title.
"Joining Mikayla as main contenders will be Lydia Hale of Rotorua and Steffie Holcroft of Hamilton.
Former Queen of the Lake, Marina Fowell from Whakatane, will also be making a play for the title, along with Deirdre Lack from Te Puke who is always a strong competitor."
Lack has had a successful return to triathlon after suffering serious injuries in a car crash near Te Puke two years ago. She qualified and competed in last year's Triathlon World Championships, and recently came third in her age-group at the Tauranga Half Ironman.
Men's defending champion, Taupo's Cameron Todd, is a late entry for the event and will be up against some tough local competition in the form of Matt Parsonage and Hugh Bootten.
"It is always a fantastic weekend of racing and fun, and it's a great event for people of all ages and abilities."
"The Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival has always been one of the hidden gems of the annual triathlon calendar, loved by everyone who has ever been involved," Ms Pearson said.
"It is run by volunteers with a love for the sport and who want to put on events for their local community.
"Once you've raced the Eves Blue Lake Multisport Festival you just keep coming back. The Blue Lake in Rotorua is an absolutely stunning location for an event like this - we are so lucky that it is our training playground every day, and we want to share that experience with everyone else."
Online entries for the Blue Lake Multisport Festival closed on Wednesday, however late entries will be accepted at the registration at the Water Ski Club at the Blue Lake prior to each of the events.
The Aquathlon starts at 8.30am tomorrow, with the Open Water Swim taking place at 5pm. The Sprint Triathlon and Fun Run both commence at 8.30am on Sunday.
For further information about the event, including course maps, go to www.rats.org.nz