Dougal Allan and Simone Maier have taken out the men's and women's Coast to Coast longest day titles in what was a close race in both fields.
After finishing second in three previous efforts, Allan finally broke his duck to cross the finish line with a time of 11:15:00.
In a field that didn't include any previous winners, the men's title was always going to be tough to call – and it turned out to be one of the closest in recent memory.
The Wanaka based athlete fended off a stern challenge from runner-up Sam Manson of Christchurch (11:30:04) and Australian Alex Hunt (11:39:34) who finished in third, with the three competitors battling within minutes of each other halfway through the kayaking stage.
It was always going to come down to where Allan, one of the strongest cyclists in the field, would end up out of the water. And when he came out of the kayaking stage in front, he made no mistake in the cycle to Christchurch and stormed home to take his first win.
With his son Flynn sitting on his lap, the 33-year-old said coming back to race in his first Coast to Coast since 2013 was a chance to make amends and set an example for his kids.
"Flynn here and Matilda (Allan's daughter), they're my world," he said after the race. "A big part of coming back was to set an example to them that you've got to reach for your goals, and success is never guaranteed, but I just wanted them to see that I had the courage to come and have a crack.
"It's been six years since my last shot at it. I was probably guilty of fearing failure in a way. I sort of just had to get over myself and I thought the success in these sorts of things is having a crack.
"It's really a career highlight. This race, it means a lot to me and I've been trying to win it for the best part of a decade."
The women's race was equally eventful, with Christchurch-based Maier also becoming a first-time winner, beating four-time champ Elina Ussher of Finland (13:07:10) and Ireland's Fiona Downling (13:09:17) who finished second and third respectively.
Maier was nearly speechless after crossing the finish line in 12:58:36, finally taking the championship in her third attempt at the competition.
"I don't know [how I feel]. I need to give it some time," she said. "I put a lot of time and effort into this event and I know it's going to be hard, and I guess there was a lot of expectation on me - a lot of pressure on myself.
"So to actually finally win the Coast is pretty amazing … I guess third time lucky."
It didn't, however, go smoothly for Maier, who crashed her bike into a van before the kayaking stage, and was then given a two-minute penalty for an incorrect transition.
"I was just smashing it down and the next thing there was a corner and I was just flying ... next thing I didn't make the corner," she said about the crash.
"I was like oh s*** my race is over."
But she was able to trust her strength on the bike, and finished strong: "[I thought] 'I need to put the hammer down', and I did."
In the two-men tandem event, All Blacks great Richie McCaw and partner Rob Nichol finished in fourth in the open men's category, improving from sixth after a difficult first day.