Hamish Longmuir may not have enjoyed the race but the Belmont 22-year-old was certainly glad to be back racing after he comfortably won the Sparke Helmore Newcastle City Triathlon on Sunday.
Longmuir is aiming to earn a professional Triathlon Australia licence this year and was happy to get some "hard racing" in his home town after being starved of competition for most of the past 12 months due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
After winning the race two years ago then placing second last year, he claimed a second title on Sunday by completing the 1.5-kilometre swim, 37km bike and 10km run in two hours, six minutes and 20 seconds. Multiple winner Nathan Stewart, from Pelican, was second in 2:15.14 and Newcastle's Josh Hockley (2:18.58) third.
The race also doubled as the NSW standard distance championship.
"The swim was comfortable," Longmuir said. "Five laps up Watt Street is never fun but you train on it so you get used to it. It had rained a bit before the race and the bike was just about limiting risks because I've got nationals in three weeks in Mooloolaba.
"It was all about just getting through the race, seeing where the fitness was at and getting some good hard racing in before nationals. It was a good hit-out. It's always a tough course."
Longmuir raced in the Maitland Triathlon in November last year but said having many events cancelled in 2020 "took a bit of a toll on everyone mentally".
"I train off knowing that there's races happening and I got to a point last year where I just stopped enjoying training," Longmuir said.
"I went into the Maitland race very unfit but this race I've had a good four months training to get into it and I felt good."
He finished 11th at the Australian championships last year and is aiming for a top-10 finish next month. Longmuir's bigger focus is the Port Macquarie half ironman in May, where he hopes to do enough to secure a professional racing licence.
Waratah West's Claire Dedden won the women's standard race on Sunday in 2:23.40 from Valentine's Chloe Hartnett (2:27.27) and Merewether's Jessica Purbrick (2:32.11).
Harrington Park's Cody Salter and Caitlin Sendt were the men's and women's sprint distance (750m swim, 22km ride, 5km run) winners respectively. Daniel Louw won the Sparke Helmore Triathlon enticer (300m swim, 12km ride, 2.5km run) and Jazmine O'Brien was the women's winner.
Race director Paul Humphreys, of H Events, said around 1000 competitors were entered with "everyone stoked to be able to get some racing in".
"The event was a huge success," Humphreys said. "The competitors were happy to have an event in Newcastle and it all went well. There were no issues with traffic and the new venue, at Customs House, worked well."