For more than 10 years Rotorua locals have braved the cold and taken on the Podium Winter Duathlon Series, organised by the Rotorua Association of Triathlon and Multisport (RATs).

Round two of the 2019 series is on Sunday, based at the Waipa Mountain Bike car park, and once again athletes of all ages and abilities are expected to take part.

Organiser Lee-Anne Willis said the duathlon combined off road running with mountain biking and there were options for everyone including a long course (4.5km run, 15km bike, 3km run), short course (3km run, 8km bike, 1.5km run) and kids' course (1.5km run, 3km bike, 500m run).

"It's a grassroots event, keeping it local, keeping it friendly and getting everyone out to have a go. It's fairly cheap and we kept it nice and casual."

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There were 113 participants in round one last month and Willis said the type of entrant ranged from experienced triathletes looking to mix up their winter training to those having a go at their first multisport event. She said about half the participants in round one were children, the fastest growing age bracket.

"A lot of triathlons are in the summer naturally, with the swimming, so triathletes use off road running and mountain biking for training in the winter. This event helps them stay motivated and keep up their training.

"The short course is for fairly beginner mountain bikers and the long course is for the most experienced.

"When I took the event over about five years ago, we had about 30-40 people total. In five years it has grown and last year we were averaging about 10 people."

She said changing the mountain bike trails used and word of mouth were the keys to the growth over the last five years.

"Plus everything's on Facebook now, social media has been a big help. I think when it comes to triathlon there are a lot of average people getting into it these days, it's not just for the elites anymore.

Tail end Charlies Lexie Tait (left) and Moana Tapsell will be making sure nobody gets left behind. Photo / Supplied
Tail end Charlies Lexie Tait (left) and Moana Tapsell will be making sure nobody gets left behind. Photo / Supplied

"Before we had more people racing but now we get more just having a go. We have people who volunteered last year trying it out for themselves this year.

"I think multisport is just a fun sport, putting the different disciplines together. It's a good challenge."

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Having so many children getting involved was a positive for the sport as a whole.

"There is a school kids duathlon in March and they get 200-300 kids from various schools. This sort of keeps them motivated and gives them something to look forward to," Willis said.

The highlight each year for Willis, as an organiser, was watching people from all walks of life cross the finish line.

"I actually love watching the kids cross that finish line. Just watching the kids put on a sprint to beat the next kid beside them, for me in particular I really like seeing that.

"About a week or so ago we had about 70 people entered but a lot leave it until the last minute to see the weather conditions and we get a few on-the-day entries. We get quite a few from Tauranga in particular and some come from other places like Auckland."

Round two of the Podium Winter Duathlon Series is on Sunday, June 30. Registration opens at 9am and racing starts at 10am. Participants can enter online at www.registernow.com.au/secure/Register.aspx?E=31669 or at the event on the day.

Podium Winter Duathlon Series - Round Two
When: Sunday, June 30, registration from 9am, racing starts at 10am.
Where: Waipa MTB Park, Rotorua.
Entry: $15 for RATs members, $20 for non-members and $10 for kids. Teams: $30-$40. Series: $40 RATs members, $50 non-members, $20 for kids, $70-$90 for teams.
To qualify for the series and spot prizes, you must register online. (Entries will be taken on the day for each race with a late fee of $10).
Courses: Long course - 4.5km run, 15km bike, 3km run, short course - 3km run, 8km bike, 1.5km run, kids' course - 1.5km run, 3km bike, 500m run.