The Mount Festival of Multisport is on the horizon, taking place in the new year on January 22nd 2022.
Coming back home to hopefully take another title and set a new record at the event is well-known New Zealand triathlete, Hannah Wells.
Wells, a Tauranga local, has been travelling across the globe competing at events, and over the last 12 months, has stepped up to the full distance and won IRONMAN NZ on debut in March.
Following on from that, she did her second full-distance race in November at IRONMAN Florida in the US and placed fifth.
She says it was the biggest and most competitive field she has raced in, and after learning a lot, she it now excited to come home to race alongside familiar faces.
"It feels good to soon be competing in an event in my hometown. I love racing at home and seeing so many people I know out on course, either racing or supporting.
"I think racing in other places around the world has made me appreciate racing at home even more."
Hannah started triathlon after she got injured from playing netball and volleyball back in 2013.
She started swimming to keep fit and met a triathlon group at the pool.
"The next thing I know I am swimming regularly with them even after the injury had passed. I signed up to do the Xterra triathlon in Rotorua a while later and have been loving tri since!"
Her training regimen for events like the Mount Festival of Multisport's Tauranga Half sees her up her hours.
"I usually aim to be training around 20-23 hours per week regularly, and when I have a big event on the horizon, I will usually look to increase that slightly to around 25 hours.
"Training is mostly done at an easy endurance pace, with a little bit of intensity in each discipline that might increase slightly towards my bigger races on the calendar."
She says experiencing the feeling of getting to the finish line, and seeing other people experiencing that too, is what she loves most about competing in triathlon.
"Whether it is your first or your 50th race, crossing a finish line after giving it your all is the best feeling!"
For those interested in beginning their own triathlon journey, Wells recommends getting a coach – especially when starting out.
"Balancing three sports is super challenging, and in endurance sports, it is easy to overdo the training too soon if you are new to it and aren't aware of training zones and appropriate intensities."
Wells has previously won the Tauranga Half in 2019 and 2020 at the Mount Festival of Multisport, and is looking forward to taking on the challenge again.
There is much to look forward to at the event, with something for people of all ages and fitness levels, says event organiser Anna Wishart.
"We think this year, especially athletes, are really looking forward to getting to the start line after so many event cancellations and re-schedules.
"The Fulton Hogan Mount Festival will be the first multisport event of its scale to kick off the year, and the line-up is looking really exciting.
"We have the return of the Tauranga Half, which will be in its 33rd year, the AquaBike, Mount Run and the brand new Pilot Bay Swim. There's something for all ages and levels of fitness whether you're up for a walk around the Mount or the full challenge of the triathlon."
The launch of the new Pilot Bay Swim complements the growing market of ocean swimming, says Wishart.
"There's an option for all levels of swimmers and distances include a 750m, 2km and 3.7km option. It's perfect for those new to ocean swimming or those looking for a challenge with the range of distances on offer.
"Every finisher receives a medal, there's prize money up for grabs and a really great event experience."
Wishart says they are doing all they can to ensure that they are following all government mandates and requirements around running events.
"This event will be run in the 'new normal' and require vaccination certificates and a few additional measures, but we can ensure that the event experience will still remain great for athletes."
The event is a huge staple on the summer calendar with over 32 years of the Tauranga Half in the region.
"Over 85% of our participants come from outside of the Bay of Plenty so it brings hundreds of people to the region. Our participants love to make a holiday out of the weekend and enjoy all the local hospitality and accommodation in the area.
"For the locals, it offers a range of events to get out and involved in with something for everyone. Whether it's a 5km walk or run with friends, through to the triathlon events or new Pilot Bay Swim, it's the perfect summer day out in the Mount."
The Mount Festival of Multisport is the first of 15 Coastal Bay of Plenty events that are being supported over the next two years by the Regional Events Fund (REF).
The Government introduced the REF to assist the tourism sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, while New Zealand's border remains closed to international visitors.
The aim of the contestable $500,000 REF allocation, which was overseen by Tourism Bay of Plenty, is to invest in events that will drive significant regional visitor numbers.
The fund was boosted by a further $200,000 allocated from the region's community-based trust TECT.
Oscar Nathan, Tumuaki | General Manager of Tāpoi Te Moananui ā Toi | Tourism Bay of Plenty, says events like the Mount Festival of Multisport offer a fantastic incentive for visitors to travel here, creating a huge flow-on effect for accommodation providers, hospitality, retail, and tourism operators.
"After the difficult year most of us have had, we're really looking forward to an exciting summer in the Bay full of popular events like this one."
"We love the way the iconic Tauranga Half is now also being complemented with slightly less challenging options throughout this festival, to cater for a wider range of abilities," Nathan says.
TECT Trustee Tina Jennen says the local trust is proud to support the event once again.
"We're delighted to be supporting the Mount Festival of Multisport once again this year after a long history of support for the event – this time through our funding partnership with Tourism Bay of Plenty.
"The festival encourages and celebrates community involvement, volunteerism, sports participation, healthy lifestyles, and sporting excellence. It's everything we want for our region, and as the flagship event for Tauranga, it showcases our region to a large visitor base. We can't wait to see our community crossing the finish lines!"
Wishart says the event organisers feel incredibly lucky to get the funding support.
"Especially in a year like this with so much uncertainty and extra challenges that we have been faced. Funding opportunities like this make running our event possible, and we really couldn't do it without this wonderful community support.
"We are so excited to get to the start line this January after a challenging few months, and the participants are looking forward to it more than ever too."
To learn more about the Mount Festival of Multisport, visit https://mountfestival.kiwi/.