Tauranga's iconic half ironman event, the Port of Tauranga Half, is at the crossroads because of competition from "a big hungry beast" called Auckland.
The future of the flagship event which celebrates its 25th birthday on January 4 next year came under close scrutiny by the city council before it approved a $20,000 grant.
Councillor Terry Molloy said it was critical the council continued to support the event because Auckland was "a big hungry beast".
"We must make sure this is successful."
Councillor Tony Christiansen said a lot of money was being poured into equivalent events in Auckland and Wanaka. They were eroding the sustainability of the Port of Tauranga Half.
"There is a clear message that we need to think outside the square and make sure it stays here."
Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive Wayne Werder, who presented the funding application to last week's meeting, said the event was at a crossroads and was no longer unique.
"It's important with this iconic flagship event that it's constantly reinvented and we keep it fresh. We know doing the same thing every year is a recipe for disaster.".
Mr Werder said the 25th anniversary committee was working on ideas to make the event extra special, not just for competitors and spectators but for the whole community.
"We are still working through the details but one idea is to tag-team with a couple of key events being held on the Thursday and Friday before the ironman, such as the Shorebreak Swim Series, to encourage even more people to want to be part of this very special event."
Mr Werder said the Port of Tauranga Half had been fully subscribed in recent years and he expected 2014 to be no different. It will again carry National Long Distance Championship status and World Championship qualification.
He was happy with how entries were tracking, with 800 individuals and 150 teams expected to make the startline. Among the athletes will be former participants wanting to be part of the 25th celebrations. Inaugural winner Karen Williams has signalled her intention to compete in 2014.
Mr Werder said the Port of Tauranga Half-Ironman brought millions into the local economy and added to the vibrancy of the city. He was not prepared to reveal the names of elite athletes who had signed up.
Anyone keen to compete should visit the website www.tgahalf.co.nz
2014 Port of Tauranga Half-Ironman key facts
- The event on January 4 is run under Triathlon New Zealand Rules.
- Entry to either Pro/Elite Athletes or Age Group category
- Athletes who race under the Pro/Elite category are not eligible for age group awards.
- Age Group entrants are not eligible for prize money.
- Age Group categories for both men and woman are: 18-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-plus.
- Entry Fees: (Before October 1, 2013) - Individual: $275; Teams: $345. (After October 1, 2013): - Individual: $375; Teams: $445
- Entries close November, 22 or earlier if maximums are reached.
- Race Organisers reserve the right to reject any entry or issue special invitations.