WARRNAMBOOL'S Rohan Creed scored a shock victory at the Horsham Triathlon on Saturday.
Creed beat out Horsham's Chris Pye by one minute and ten seconds to take the title, with five-time winner Steve Gray finishing third.
Organiser Mark Pumpa said Warrnambool athletes were not initially expected to compete in Horsham, but Creed's entry late last week paid dividends.
"We had a new winner, which was one out of the bag because no one was expecting a Warrnambool guy to come along and win it," he said.
"We weren't expecting anyone from down there to come to be honest, but we had a phone call during the week saying a few blokes from down there would be coming.
"Normally it's mostly the same crew that comes along every year, but we had them come from everywhere and there was some good elite people there this year."
Creed said the Horsham race had left a big impression on him.
"I thought it was a fantastic event - it was really well run, there was a plenty of cheering along the course and a good bit of camaraderie between the competitors," he said.
"Events like that grow every year because of word of mouth I'll certainly be telling everyone down here how great it was and I'm sure there will be more going next year."
Creed said he was pushed by Pye despite his eventual winning margin, and it wasn't until the end of the race that he was truly able to relax and enjoy it.
A field of nearly 70 competitors and 10 teams tackled the long course event along the Wimmera River, with a further 11 athletes completing the long course duathlon.
Twenty-nine athletes and one team finished the short course triathlon.
There was also a strong junior field, but juniors did not have their times officially recorded and were not ranked.
Pumpa said it was the biggest and best field Tri Horsham had ever had at the event.
"The senior numbers were up on last year as were the kids numbers," he said.
"In takings, we were $500 further ahead on Friday night compared to previous years and we had more entries on Saturday as well.
"It's definitely the biggest field we've had, definitely the biggest number of professional triathletes we've had turn up and the biggest field of kids."
Pumpa said the increased entries and higher standard of the field were helped by Horsham's inclusion in the inaugural Telstra Rural Tri Series.
The series includes Benalla, Echuca, Albury, Shepparton and Horsham, with points for each event counting towards an overall Tri Series win.
Pumpa said the series had encouraged a more diverse range of athletes to come to Horsham.
"The rural series has got a lot of interest out there so we could have a look at maybe adopting Warrnambool into the series so that instead of five towns, we have six," he said.
"We've stepped things up another level as well with our professionalism and there's race points and money involved and by doing that, there's a lot more guys starting to turn up.
"Now we're really on the map for triathlons in Victoria."