It is starting to look like Kyle Smith is a name we will be hearing a lot more often.
The Taupō triathlete announced his arrival into long distance triathlon with a win in his debut event – the Taupō 70.3 Ironman in December. Now, he has put the triathlon world on notice with a course record breaking victory at the Tauranga Half in Mount Maunganui on Saturday.
• Premium - Emotional win for local Kyle Smith at Ironman 70.3 Taupō
• Premium - Hannah Wells, Kyle Smith aim to start season strong at Tauranga Half
• Kyle Smith wins another Marra Sprint Triathlon
• Bay of Plenty rising stars headline Ironman 70.3 Taupō
Smith finished the 2km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run in 3h 42m 7s, smashing the record set by Braden Currie in 2017 by three minutes and 31 seconds.
Auckland's Jack Moody was second in 3h 45m 20s and Rotorua's Olly Shaw was third in 3h 51m 44s.
Smith described the win as "unbelievable".
"It was a hard day out there, the half Ironmans are always hard being so long. I really enjoyed the day, led wire to wire again - I had a really good swim and managed to open a gap, got on the bike and felt really good so put my head down and went for it.
"I got off the bike and the run legs came together, I was able to settle into my pace and when I realised the second guy wasn't catching I was able to let off the pedal a little bit and enjoy the day," Smith said.
Breaking the record was not something he had targeted going into the race but it was a nice bonus for a hard day's work.
"I just really wanted to execute my day like I planned. The course record is the icing on the cake, I'm really happy.
"Braden [Currie] is such a classy athlete, he's done so much in the sport and really paved the way for us New Zealand triathletes. I had the pleasure of training with him for a couple of weeks in 2017 and saw how dedicated he was and how hard he works so I tried to put that into my own training. I was happy enough to break his record and hopefully he can line up next year and we can go toe-to-toe."
Smith was amazed by the support from the Mount Maunganui locals throughout the race.
"The local support was amazing, I couldn't go 100m without someone yelling 'go Kyle'. It was amazing out there and it really does boost you. I have a bit of a game face on when I'm racing but I do take it in and really appreciate it."
Meanwhile, local star Hannah Wells maintained her remarkable run of victories, taking the women's elite title for the second consecutive year. It was her 10th win in a row, including running races.
Wells finished in 4h 11m 6s, just 19 seconds short of the course record and two minutes faster than last year. Auckland's Rebecca Clarke was second in 4h 21m 35s and United States athlete Lisa Roberts was third in 4h 27m 59s.
Wells said conditions for the race were "awesome".
"We had a tail wind home on the bike which was really nice, it was nice and flat on the swim and pretty fast on the run - not too hot - so I felt pretty good.
"It's unbelievable, especially to get the 10th win at home. I don't know where the time has gone but it's been awesome. I've got a big year planned, especially now that I'm a fulltime athlete, so this sets me up well and I'm looking forward to it."
Wells didn't have things all her own way, trailing Clarke by one minute and six seconds out of the water, but playing catch-up on the bike was not an unfamiliar concept for the 29-year-old Tauranga athlete.
"I'm pretty used to that, I've raced Becs a few times now and she's a very good swimmer. I was prepared to be coming out of the water a little bit behind her but I caught her pretty quickly on the bike, about 10km in, and from then on we worked together, came into T2 together and I just did my own thing on the run."
Tauranga Half Results
1st Kyle Smith (Taupō) 3h 42m 7s, 2nd Jack Moody (Auckland) 3h 45m 20s, 3rd Olly Shaw (Rotorua) 3h 51m 44s, 4th Simon Cochrane (Hamilton) 3h 54m 58s, 5th Mark Bowstead (Auckland) 3h 55m 36s.
1st Hannah Wells (Tauranga) 4h 11m 6s, 2nd Rebecca Clarke (Auckland) 4h 21m 35s, 3rd Lisa Roberts (Tucson, US) 4h 27m 59s, 4th Melanie Burke (Auckland) 4h 33m 17s, 5th Emily McNaughton (Auckland) 4h 34m 45s.