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Back in black . . . Oamaru triathletes Mitch McRae and Adair Craik are looking forward to representing New Zealand on the Gold Coast. PHOTO: HAYDEN MEIKLE

Two of Oamaru’s most multi-talented sports people will join a massive collection of triathletes in Australia next week.

North Otago multisport guru Adair Craik and Sport Waitaki co-ordinator Mitch McRae are competing in the final round of the ITU world triathlon series.

More than 5000 of the world’s best elite and age-group triathletes, representing 46 nations, will gather on the Gold Coast for the event.

Craik will compete over the sprint distance (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) in the women’s 55-59 years classification.

She has previously competed in numerous world age-group triathlon events, including on the Gold Coast, but this will be her first appearance at one since 2013.

“I’ve had a few niggles leading up to this, so I’ll just be grateful to get to the start line,” she said.

To qualify for the world event, New Zealand athletes had to finish within a certain time of the winners in their respective categories at the national championships.

Craik, who finished fifth in New Zealand, has been a devotee of triathlon for her entire adult life.

“I just love the camaraderie. I’ve always loved the sport. I’ve loved triathlon since it was invented in 1980.

“I love being fit. It’s a good way to be in your life. It takes you away from all the stresses of life.

“And honestly, I think we’ve got the best triathlon training in the world down here. Our roads are safer than most places, and we’ve got an indoor pool or a slightly chilly sea.”

McRae will compete over the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run) in the men’s 30-34 years classification.

He has been training for 15-20 hours a week over winter under the guidance of former Olympic cyclist Matthew Randall.

McRae is reluctant to make bold predictions about his performance in Australia.

“It’s a bit of an unknown, because it’s the first race of the season for us, so we haven’t been able to test ourself,” he said.

“You aim to win every race, obviously. Top 10 would be great. But you just take what you can get, really.”

He has previously competed at ITU events in Auckland, London and Chicago. At the latter, he proposed to then girlfriend Danique, who is now his wife and will be on hand to support him on the Gold Coast.

McRae, an accomplished basketballer in his younger days, loves the challenge presented by elite triathlon.

“I enjoy the racing aspect of it. I’m a pretty competitive person.

“So it’s just the challenge of putting three disciplines together. You can have an average swim or an average cycle and still be in the hunt. The challenge is trying to perfect all three.”

McRae is coaching St Kevin’s College at the South Island secondary schoolboys tournament in Blenheim before he heads to Australia.