It was Alex Hunt first, the elements – and then the rest.
So much so that Freycinet Challenge runner-up James Reid felt like a chuffed silver medallist to Team USA in an Olympic basketball final.
“It was basically a race for second,” Reid admitted.
“We always knew who was going to win.
“It was really still a good battle between second, third, fourth, even fifth.”
Reid finished more than 53 minutes behind the electrifying Hunt over the two-day Freycinet Challenge.
The Hobart competitor had nearly 35 minutes on Reid and veteran Ian Parker heading into Sunday from a 100.7-km, four-lap course.
Hunt is now peaking at his fittest ever having blitzed the field at the Icebreaker Multisport Challenge back in May at Cataract Gorge.
He had battled a serious patella tendon injury earlier in the year.
“It was good to come second to him – he’s a very good athlete,” Reid said.
“What else can I say?
“He’s at another level.
“He stepped it up this year.”
Reid was returning to the harsh, but beautiful Freycinet course for the first time.
The Youngtown 31-year-old improved vastly on his maiden fifth place in 2015.
Reid, who started out as a mountainbiker around 2000, was coming off a 2016 Cataract Gorge Challenge win.
“I didn’t really enjoy it as much last year,” Reid said.
“So I got into rhythm, just relaxed and really enjoyed it.”
He credits improvement to coach Paul Turner, past coach Paul McKenzie and gym owner Mark Connolly.
The early blustery conditions saw race organisers alter the finish, ensuring the kayak leg was run last.
It made no difference amid the wild winds all day.
Sally Alps won the women’s race – as also the only individual female entrant.
“We need a few more females in the sport,” she said.
“I understand it is quite a tough challenge and with it being two days, there is so much more training that needs to be involved in it.
“But in the same instance, I’m sure there are a few athletes that could.”
The Launceston woman bettered her combined time from last year in nearly 11 gut-busting hours.
Nubeena Tasman Bendigo Community Bank took out the two-person teams event, while Hurt Locker snared the four-person race.
It was good to come second to him – he’s a very good athlete