Kyle Smith has a real liking for the Marra Sprint Triathlon held at Mount Maunganui.
The 20-year-old from Cambridge defended his title at the 31st running of the popular end-of-season event hosted by Tauranga Triathlon on Sunday morning. Smith won in 57m 02s with Tauranga's Lachlan Haycock second (57.54) and Malcolm King third (58.11).
Smith has not been able to compete over the summer triathlon season through injury but chose the Marra Sprint Tri to get back into competition. His knee niggle did not stop him making it back-to-back wins over the 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run including a lap of the Mauao Base Track.
He won despite a major mechanical issue with his bike that made the outward bike leg into the stiff headwind a real challenge.
"I had to push probably 25 per cent harder just to go the same speed so it made it a really hard day. I led out of the water and was leading after the first lap of the bike and then had to stop to attend to my wheel to keep it moving," he said.
"I took a minute out and dropped back to about sixth or seventh and was about third heading out onto the run. The adrenalin got me through and I ran well."
Hannah Knighton, 17, won the women's event at her first attempt in 1h 2m 09s ahead of Tauranga teen Olivia Cummings (1.05.05) with Samantha Kingsford third.
Hamilton-based Knighton is part of the Tauranga Triathlon Club and is trained by Tauranga coach Chris Willett.
"I have been trying to work on my swim over the summer and I had a really strong swim so I was really happy with that. It was cool being able to get shelter from the wind from the guys on the bike. That is not something we usually get to do and it makes things a bit easier and a bit faster," she said.
"On the run I just wanted to have a little fun and get the cobwebs out."
Knighton enjoyed the gusty wind that strengthened during the event.
"It was pretty strong but it is always good when there is a bit of a wind as it separates it up a bit, makes for a bit more interesting racing dynamics."
Event organiser Paul Miller says there were increased numbers in all categories this year.
"We saw a big increase in the mini triathlon for six to 11-year-olds with over a 100 on the start line and in the Monster race for 12 to 16s they had an increase of 20 or 30 so they were over 50 athletes. We had 180 athletes in the sprint triathlon, with 160 individuals and 20 teams.
"The day has been great. We had some great spot prizes for the kids and we have to thank Marra Construction again for the sponsorship. Without them races wouldn't go ahead.
"This pretty much wraps up the summer triathlon season in Tauranga at Pilot Bay and throughout the whole country. A lot of these athletes hibernate over winter and will train for the World Triathlon Championships on the Gold Coast in mid-September."
Ian Pugh was first home in the Marra Monsters Individual under-16 boys' race with Seana Gray first female home. Caoilinn Gray and Benjamin Hilbert took out the under-11 Marra Minis races.