Cameron Brown said after his 10th - and perhaps most memorable - win in the Port of Tauranga half ironman: "The first win was great but to win at 41 is something special. I don't think there are many 41-year-olds in the world who can do that."
Uh, no. For not many, maybe read 'none'. New Zealand's finest endurance athlete yesterday made it 10 victories at the base of The Mount, with well-performed Scottish athlete Catriona Morrison going close to race record time in adding her name to the 25-year honour roll - a quarter of a century since this iconic Kiwi race began.
Graham O'Grady (Kinloch) put aside the welcome distraction of becoming a dad for the first time overnight to lead out of the water in the men's race, closely followed by Mark Bowstead (Auckland), Hamish Hammond (Greytown) and Callum Millward (Auckland), with Brown 41 seconds back in among a chase group that included Coast to Coast champion Braden Currie (Wanaka).
Bowstead put the hammer down on the second lap on the bikes, establishing a two minute lead, with Brown riding into second ahead of a tiring Millward and O'Grady. Currie, meanwhile, had struggled to adjust to the road (after a winter on the mountain bike) and lost seven minutes to the leaders.
The 21km run at the Port of Tauranga, however, is as close as you can get to Cameron Brown's office and the wily veteran was soon in his comfort zone, reeling in Bowstead before taking the lead at the 14km mark to enjoy his run home.
"That was great today. I love racing at this event. I have so many good memories here over the years. I just raced my own race and resisted the urge to go too quick, especially on the bike. I am very, very happy with that performance and I'm looking forward to Taupo now."
Bowstead held on for second ahead of a fast-finishing Currie who charged through half a dozen athletes for third, just ahead of Millward.
In the women's race, four-time winner Jo Lawn was among the leaders out of the water, along with Amelia Rose Watkinson and Morrison. Lawn was out of sorts on the bike, however, with Morrison and Watkinson entering transition side by side, comfortably clear of Lawn and Candice Hammond.
In similar fashion to Brown, Morrison churned out the kilometres at a consistent and quick pace, finishing over five minutes clear of Watkinson but an agonising 34s outside Sam Warriner's 2009 race record.
Warriner had earlier withdrawn to protect her injured hamstring, having led out of the swim and for most of the bike.
The pint-sized Morrison was delighted with her win: "It was good. It's always a big unknown to race the first race of the season, it doesn't matter who you are. It gave me a few pointers and I think I can be very happy with the performance. The course was as I expected, the bike [section] is so flat - I yearn for hills and mountains so I found that quite challenging. You have to try to be draft-legal but, provided everyone plays their part and plays fair, it makes for a good race.
"Any race with such a history behind it is a pleasure to come and race because you know it is well respected by the athletes and the community."
It was with mixed emotions that defending champion and new father O'Grady crossed the line in 14th place, admitting that after partner Natasha presented the couple with baby Pepper in the early evening on Friday that he wasn't sure he would make the start line.
"The brain is a bit scrambled. I guess it was a big ask coming here after going through yesterday. I was over the moon, though, and in a good frame of mind - but it takes a toll and I felt a little flat on the course today and ended up pushing hard to go not very fast."