STRONG cycling and running legs ensured Peter Hughes registered a convincing win in Sunday's triathlon at Emeralds Fairbairn Dam.
Race director Megan Daniels said competitors put their fitness to the test with a sprint to the finish in the open men's long race.
"They are always neck and neck. Matthew Jurak finished three minutes behind Peter Hughes," Daniels said.
"Matthew came out first from the water, closely followed by Peter, who worked hard to catch him, taking the lead during the bike leg."
The race came down to fitness and experience, with Hughes and Jurak leading the pack by a 10-minute margin.
In the women's long course triathlon, Leah Cheal proved too strong for the rest of the field, finishing ahead of her closest rival Mindy Durkin.
The victory was a welcome return to the winner's dais for Cheal, after missing out on November's start to the season at Tieri.
"Leah is a very strong competitor, with her best leg definitely being the run," Daniels said.
"She is a very fit girl and would have done it easy."
The Central Highlands triathlon brought some added challenges, with a rough outback course.
"It was a good course that provided challenges for people," Daniels said.
"It offered an open water swim, then straight out of the water was a huge hill, which tested everyone's fitness.
"They came straight out of transition. Many found it hard to get their legs going."
There was a turnout of 44 individual competitors, five teams, and three juniors.
"We had eight different events, ranging from juniors to elite triathletes," Daniels said.
"Our largest event was the men's long course, with 15 participants."
The event was sponsored by Rio Tinto Coal Australia's Kestrel Mine, allowing the club to gain support and funding towards equipment needed for the club and the event.
The next triathlon will be held at Blackwater's Bedford Weir on March 11.