Graham O'Grady knows he will have a target on his back when he lines up in the New Plymouth half ironman this morning.
The 30-year-old is well aware everyone will be gunning for him.
They should be.
O'Grady, of Kinloch, has won four events this summer - Tinman in Tauranga over the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run), the Taupo half ironman (3km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run), the Rotorua triathlon over the Olympic distance and the Tauranga half ironman.
"Pretty good," a rather modest O'Grady said. "It's been a good summer so far, the training is going well. Four wins is not too shabby.
"I raced in the Auckland 70.3 and finished 23rd. Tauranga took quite a bit out of me and I paid the price for that. But Tauranga was my main goal."
O'Grady admitted everyone was probably lining him up as the favourite.
"This is my last race. I'm not racing at Taupo.
"I'm heading to the States about that time . . . I'm targeting a few races over there."
Today will be the first time O'Grady has lined up in the Wells New Plymouth half ironman.
He was to have raced in 2011 but withdrew late because of family commitments and missed last year because of injury.
"I'm looking forward to racing in New Plymouth. I know the course and how tough it is.
"I lived down there and trained for a summer with Clark Ellice a few years ago. The cycle leg is tough."
Race organiser Selwyn Brown said entries were slightly up on last year, with just over 200 competing today.
"That's OK. It will be a fantastic day both for competitors and spectators. We've got the big screen in use and will have footage from out on the course," he said.
"The weather forecast is good and there will be plenty happening for spectators to watch. The half ironman starts at 7.30am. The enticer event will start when all the half ironman entrants are out of the water."
The enticer event is for newcomers to the sport and involves a 300m swim, a 9km cycle and a 3km run.
Brown said with 140 marshals - two shifts of 70 - he was confident things would run smoothly.
"You can't run an event like this without their help. It's tremendous."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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