Double Olympic triathlon medallist Bevan Docherty and multisport icon Cameron Brown headline today's home challenge for the Asia-Pacific half Ironman title in downtown Auckland.
Docherty, Brown and defending 70.3 world champion Terenzo Bozzone will all line up in the men's race against a solid international field, featuring Australia's multiple world Ironman champion Craig Alexander and Germany's 2008 Olympic triathlon champion Jan Frodeno.
The 70.3 event, or half Ironman, consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run in and around the viaduct.
Docherty says he believes today's field is the strongest outside of the world championship in Kona, Hawaii.
"It's great that the organisers can put together such an amazing field," Docherty said.
"I thought I was going to come and have a little bit of a cherry-pick race. To be honest, I don't think we are going to see as competitive a field until the world championships.
"It goes to show we can put world class events on here."
Brown, the 10-time national Ironman champion, also acknowledge the kind of challenge facing the Kiwis.
"The calibre of the field is incredible, it is fantastic to see," Brown said.
"The quality and number of top events in Asia-Pacific now means we don't need to travel any more."
Meanwhile, the women's field features established Kiwi racers Jo Lawn and Sam Warriner.
Lawn, who has won the national Ironman title seven times, and former Olympic distance world No 1 Warriner, are part of 14 professional female racers with this the first time Lawn has competed in her home city.
"My father and my mother live basically on the course and we live so close to it but I've never raced a triathlon in Auckland," Lawn said.
"And I've never ever been over the Harbour Bridge except in a car," she added.
"How awesome is that going to be. I am scared of heights so I am not sure what it will be like but I am sure it will be spectacular and I will definitely take in the view."
Racing began at 6:15am.
- © Fairfax NZ News