With national titles up for grabs, tomorrow's 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival will be hotly contested.
The annual event, run by Active QT, at Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) doubles as the New Zealand Multisport Championships and New Zealand Secondary School Championships so racing at the elite level is sure to be fast and furious.
There are a range of races available for complete beginners to experienced multisport athletes and Active QT managing director Adrian Bailey said about 800 participants had singed up to enjoy Rotorua's "beautiful surroundings".
"What makes it unique is the location itself, it's absolutely spectacular.
"Lake Tikitapu and the Blue Lake reserve lends itself so well to multisport triathlon from the simplicity of the fact you're kayaking right here on the lake and you're right on the edge of the Whakarewarewa Forest with all the trails. It's just perfect."
The Premier race comprises a 9km paddle, 30km mountain bike and 10.5km run. Bailey said his goal was to have events for people from all walks of life.
"There's no question about it, it does draw the elite athletes, but there is a mixture of people. You've got the beginners and the weekend warriors but because it's also the national secondary school champs we're encouraging the youth as well.
"It's a chance for the youth to mix it with some of the best of the adult elites and at the same time, some of those kids can move, they keep the adults on their toes, that's for sure."
When asked if last year's champions would be the ones to beat this year, Bailey said it was hard to say, such was the unpredictable nature of multisport.
"It could be anyone's day. We've seen over the years you can be in the best shape that you want to be in but things happen. There's the state of mind, fatigue and mechanicals as well. You have your eyes on who could be the front runners but things change quickly in racing. It's not over until it's over."
Mouth-watering State of Origin match-ups
Last year, Tauranga's Bevan Jefferies took the Premier win, finishing in 3h 4m 31s, three minutes ahead of fellow Tauranga athlete Matt Backler. Jefferies has entered to defend his title.
Fun day for a ride on the Whaka Forest... 🗓SUNDAY 3RD JUNE 2018 🌏 http://activeqt.co.nz/event/rotorua-multisport/ 🚣🚵♀️🏃🏻 #rotoruamultisportfestival #activeqt #thermatech #garminnz #buff_nz #tailwindnutritionnz #flatisboring #starkayaks #vaudenz #novotelrotorualakeside #rotoruanz #mountainbiking #multisport #salomon #timetoplay #salomonrunning #salomonnz #yakimaaunz #yakimaracks #newzealand #goalzero #osm #manukahealthnz #interislander #alpinamentePosted by 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival on Saturday, 2 June 2018
The fastest woman was Backler's wife Sarah Backler in 3h 32m 58s. Matt has been unwell and will not race this weekend but will be there as part of Sarah's support crew as she lines up to defend her title, although she said she is not in the same form she was last year.
"I haven't really done much training at all this last year, I've had a few running injuries, so I'm not in the same form but I thought I should at least come and give it a go.
"This event has an awesome combination of cross-country trails in the forest so I think that's probably the highlight. Also, Blue Lake is always an awesome location and it's nice dropping down to Green Lake and working your way back up."
She said she and her husband enjoyed that multisport took them to scenic locations all over New Zealand as well as the added technical elements in comparison to regular triathlon.
"We first got into off-road triathlon like Xterra stuff but I'd had enough of swimming so I'm enjoying paddling on top of the water. We both enjoy the off-road environment rather than pounding pavement - there's a bit of skill involved.
"With road cycling it's all about fitness whereas here you've got to be fit but you can make up for it a bit if you're better on the technical stuff or if you're fitter on the hills.
"You can only really do what you can do and if you concern yourself with what others are doing it's not really going to help you at the end of the day.
"You just have to hope you can go out, have a good race, connect all the pieces and have a good day. If you're better than the competition then that's awesome, if not you go and do some more training and come back another year," Backler said.