Fresh from racing in Guam and Saipan, Rotorua's Olly Shaw has returned home and has his sights set on Xterra New Zealand.
Shaw will race against a world-class field tomorrow at Xterra New Zealand in Rotorua.
The off-road triathlon event will see about 2000 people taking part in different races and events at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) tomorrow, including two-time defending elite champion Ben Allen (Australia) and Xterra legend Conrad Stoltz (South Africa).
The elite race will start at 11am and includes a 1km swim in Blue Lake, 26km mountain bike in the Whakarewarewa Forest and 11km trail run around the lake.
Shaw said racing in his home town gave him added motivation to do well.
"There are overseas racers coming to my home town and there is a bit of pride at stake to defend on home soil and go well against the top guys."
Shaw, who races as a professional on the Xterra world circuit, said he had raced well overseas during the last couple of weeks.
"I had two really solid races; finishing third in Guam and fourth in Saipan."
Shaw finished third at the event in Rotorua last year and said it would be great to finish on the podium again tomorrow. However, he said his main focus was simply to race well and see where it gets him.
"I just want to go and have a really good race and see where that puts me. If I race really well and finish fifth or sixth I would be happy."
The 22-year-old said this was probably the best field he had seen at Xterra New Zealand, led by Allen and Stoltz.
"I'm just hoping to have a good race and see how I go against those guys."
If Allen wins tomorrow he will join triathlon legend Hamish Carter as the only other man to three-peat at Xterra New Zealand.
Allen has recorded good form recently, winning the Xterra Great Ocean Rd race in Australia two weeks ago and Xterra Saipan last weekend.
He said he could not wait to get started tomorrow.
"I absolutely love being involved here and racing the Kiwis on their turf. It's great that Roger Serrano, Sam Gardner and Conrad Stoltz have made the trip over to experience this one-of-a-kind race," he said.
Four-time Xterra world champion Stoltz has been training on the Rotorua trails for a week in the build-up to Xterra New Zealand.
He will be another favourite to win the men's race.
In the women's elite race, Barbara Riveros from Chile will lead a strong field. Olympian Riveros has finished in the top four at the Xterra World Champs two years in a row, including a runner-up finish in 2012.
Rotorua's Nic Leary will also be racing and has won Xterra New Zealand twice (2009 and 2010). Xterra New Zealand was first held 12 years ago.