Auckland's Brodie Madgwick and Cambridge's Candice Hammond will defend their titles in next month's New Plymouth half ironman.
The two are confirmed starters for the 2km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run on February 9.
Madgwick, who gave his rivals a lesson last year when he powered away to win by nearly seven minutes, can expect strong opposition this time round.
Cambridge triathlete Keegan Williams, who won the event in 2011, is also lining up as is Graham O'Grady, from Kinloch. O'Grady won the Taupo half ironman before Christmas and then produced a stunning performance to beat both Cameron Brown and Terenzo Bozzone in the Triathlon New Zealand long distance champs at Mt Maunganui earlier this month.
Hammond, with back-to-back wins in the New Plymouth race, will start a warm favourite to make it a hat-trick.
The half ironman also caters for teams.
There's a three-person relay event and a business house challenge relay over the same distances.
Event organiser Selwyn Brown said a new event on the programme was the Enticer - aimed at newcomers to the sport or those just wanting a quick splash, bike and dash.
"The 300m swim runs parallel to the beach and is close to the shore, the 9km bike leg has a few hills and the 3km run is virtually flat," Brown said.
So far 140 entries have been received all up - 60 short of last year's field.
"We've got about 75 individuals, with the rest in teams. It's down a bit and tracking a bit slow, but I'm ever the optimist and hopefully we'll get close to 200," he said.
With entries closing on Friday, Brown said he expected a late rush.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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