Sam Bradley describes herself as an "age-group" triathlete - but that hasn't stopped her from winning the Tinman Triathlon about seven times.
The Taupō-based triathlete says she is a mum first, a triathlon coach second and an athlete last, but when she takes the start line of a race the mentally tough strength athlete she is known for comes out.
At 47 Bradley was the first woman to finish last year's event, claiming the national standard distance title after completing a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run in 2h 7m 5s.
This weekend, she will be back in Tauranga to compete in tomorrow's Tinman, hosted by Triathlon Tauranga. Although she refers to herself as an "age-group athlete", there is no holding back her competitive nature in a race.
"It gets harder though, I'm nearly 50 and there are some amazing youngsters coming through. At the end of the day I am an age grouper but [also] at the end of the day ... inside me Sam Bradley is still there. So, put me on the start line of a course like Tauranga and that comes out.
"I can't deny, yeah I will still be giving it my all, I will be racing whoever's on that start line ... that's just me."
Bradley is a former Olympic triathlete who, during her time as a professional athlete, won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and competed at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. She has seven ITU World Cup event wins and in 2008 won the ITU World Cup series overall.
After racing ITU triathlon she went on to win seven Ironman 70.3 events around the world.
Since retiring as an elite athlete she has focused on motherhood, coaching other athletes through her coaching business Sweat7, and competes for fun - saying she still loves the sport and that won't change whether she's first or last.
"I'm now a mum and I'm also a triathlon coach and then I just like to race for fun."
Bradley will have a group of talented athletes with her, including those she coaches, all ready for the Tinman - a race she highlights as a significant one on the triathlon calendar.
"I'm taking a group of 15 athletes over to Tauranga and a lot of us are going to look at it and say 'right, what do we need to work on now to give us our best chance to qualify come December?'.
That's when the ironman 70.3 returns to Taupō, with qualification spots available for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, also in Taupō, in 2020.
"This year's Tinman is probably quite a key event, because it's the national champs. It's the national champs standard distance and all of us love to get the opportunity to have a look at the title, but also as well as we've got the 70.3 champs coming next year to New Zealand in Taupō and so all of us are racing and getting ready to qualify.
"We're going into it thinking 'how is our fitness, how are we looking, what do we need to adjust, what do we need to adapt in order to qualify for the world champs because you can't beat having a world champs in your own home country."
The Tinman, Bradley says, is always a well-run event and is always a highlight for any triathlete attending.
"They do a great race. It's a very well organised race. Running around the Mount is obviously one of the iconic things that you do when you come to New Zealand anyways ... and it's a challenging race as well.
"It's the first race of the season so it's always nice to see where you're at and after a good winter of training. This is where it starts.
As well as the main race, tomorrow's event will also feature a sprint (750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run), a Super Sprint (350m swim, 10km bike ride, 3km run), a Splash N Dash for the kids (100m swim, 1km run) and para races.
Tauranga Triathlon events and development manager Paul Miller is expecting more than 400 athletes across the event.
Miller says professional Ironman athlete Simon Cochrane is likely the biggest name lining up while the age group categories are always tightly contested. He also highlighted the standard distance 45-49 age year group, which has 25 people racing. In that race are Triathlon Tauranga members Adam Hazlett, Brad Dixon and Andrew Vane, who Miller says, as they're training partners they share a friendly rivalry.
The course is largely unchanged, with the swim leg taking place in Pilot Bay, the fast cycle course includes Marine Parade and Ocean Beach Rd while the run leg takes in the base track of Mauao.
The event will require around 140 volunteers and Miller says everyone pitches in.
"We involve community groups that supply a lot of our marshals, and a lot of the specific triathlon stuff is done by our members."
Shane Lye will compete in the 55-60 age category and is also the director of Gen X Homes which, along with Marra Construction, form the primary sponsors for the event.
"I got into it [triathlon] just after school," Lye says.
"I played rugby at school and did some running and then as an 18-year-old I thought I would give it a go. My brother and I got into it together, we had that brotherly rivalry going.
"This is a good local event and I moved here 16 years ago, pretty much because all the good races are here. This race is about being competitive in your age group. We also have good young talent here and it is about putting back into the sport you love.
- Additional reporting Adyn Ogle
Sunday, November 10.
Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui.
First race at 7.30am.