Faced with patches of heavy rain and slippery track conditions that forced runners to grab the grass to pull themselves up hilly climbs, Tauranga Intermediate's Renee Carey not only won her school's first gold medal of the 2019 AIMS Games - she also broke a record while doing it.
The Year 8 student was the first Tauranga student to secure a first placing at today's cross-country event at Waipuna Park, winning her division in 10m 56s and breaking the record for her age group by two seconds.
It was a feat Renee was "stoked" about, especially since she battled strong headwinds as a Year 7 last year to win her race but to fall one second short of the 11m 24s record for her age group.
Fueling up on a big bowl of oats and a banana before the race, Renee said she felt good afterwards. She said the toughest part was the hill, when she had to use her hands to avoid slipping.
The cross country event marks the beginning of the AIMS Games Tournament, which brings more than 11,000 intermediate-aged children from 368 schools to Tauranga to compete in various codes.
Cross-country course organiser Malcolm Taylor says Renee's race was the top race of the day and he was always confident she would take out her event.
And just like last year, Renee again will focus on other codes for the rest of the tournament.
Last year she won gold in the Year 7 Girls' 2.4km run, 3.8km bike and 1km kayak multisport race and also played hockey - both of which she is competing in again this year.
Mum Jodi Carey said her daughter's efforts were amazing, with much of her training coming down to her involvement in many other sports.
Former Tauranga Intermediate School principal and AIMS Games co-founder Brian Diver said he was "delighted" to be able to see Renee break the record, describing her as "outstanding".
He said the young athletes had "tough conditions" to race in and was pleased to see a lot of supporters there despite the weather conditions.
Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School's Liam Good was the only other Tauranga student to receive a podium placing at the cross-country, securing a third place in the Year 7 Boys in 11min, 27.34s.
"It was hard, it was a bit slippery up the hill ... I kind of grabbed the grass," Liam said.
He'll now focus on multisport and water polo for the rest of the tournament.
Proud dad Brendon Good could be seen on a video call with Liam's mum, who had to miss the event as she was in Australia celebrating the birth of her niece's new baby.
Brendon said Liam had been training hard in the lead up to the race, and despite feeling nervous the morning of the event, overcame that to secure his third place finish in his first AIMS Games tournament.
The first race of the day was the Year 7 Girls, which was won by Amy Hurly from Northcross Intermediate in a time of 11min, 25.55s. While she described the cross-country race as "really amazing", her favourite part of it was the finish line because "everybody's cheering for you".
Like Liam and Renee, Amy is also competing in the multisport event, which will take place at McLaren Falls Park on Wednesday.
Year 7 Girls:
1st: Amy Hurly (Northcross Intermediate), 11min, 25.55s; 2nd: Liliani Cuevas-Haxton (Tamatea Intermediate School), 11min, 33.63s; 3rd: Charlotte Greaves (Glen Eden Intermediate School), 11min, 44.33s.
Year 7 Boys: 1st: Joe Martin ((Karori Normal School), 11min 7.82s; 2nd: Caleb Wagener (Elim Christian College), 11min, 16.88s; 3rd: Liam Good (Ōtūmoetai Intermediate School), 11min, 27.34s.
Year 8 Girls: 1st: Renee Carey (Tauranga Intermediate School), 10min, 56.52s; 2nd: Zoe Benson (Bucklands Beach Intermediate), 11min, 12.17s; 3rd: Sophie Robb (St Cuthbert's College), 11min, 16.84s.
Year 8 Boys: 1st: Elliott Graves (Hillview Christian School), 10min, 18.89s; 2nd: Jack Erikson (Ponsonby Intermediate), 10min, 26.81s; 3rd: Joshua Cavanagh (Berkley Normal School), 10min, 30.90s.