INTERNATIONAL PROFESSIONALS ENTER CHALLENGE WANAKA
Challenge Wanaka is New Zealand’s largest triathlon festival. It features events for all ages and abilities. It involves over 2,500 participants. Thus, it attracts thousands of spectators and a global audience of millions.
Moreover, it features one of the world’s toughest and most honest middle distance triathlon courses. It’s set against the stunning alpine backdrop of New Zealand’s Southern Alps and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
CHALLENGE WANAKA TRIATHLON 2019
More than 400 individual athletes and 220 teams competed in the Challenge Wanaka Half and 100 in the Suzuki Aquabike National Championships. The competitions held today on a sunny Wanaka Saturday. Of course, thousands of spectators come out to cheer the athletes on.
New Zealand’s top triathlete Braden Currie crushed his international competition in the run today. He won the Challenge Wanaka centerpiece event the Half distance race in four hours flat.
The Wanaka local came out of the water in second place to Christchurch’s Dylan McNeice. On the bike leg American cycling powerhouse Andrew Starykowicz has overtaken Currie’s leading position.
Starykowicz is the world record holder for the fastest bike split in a Long Distance Triathlon. Also today, he kept an impressive lead on the bike.
But soon he was run down on the off-road run along the shores of Lake Wanaka.
Australian Matt Burton who was 8th out of the water, put in an amazing bike leg passing all but Starykowicz. However, Braden Currie was close on Burton’s tail into the second transition. Thus, he passed the Aussie within the first two minutes of the run. Hence, Matt Burton held on for third place. He held off a fast young kiwi professional Jack Moody.
“It wasn’t the best day, I didn’t feel that great but in the runI got into it and got into a rhythm. I knew Starky would hurt so I kept it going. It is so awesome to win and a really good result,” said Currie.
“Maybe a bit of pacing helped me as I felt comfortable till the end. So just looking on to the future.”
“I know how much this must mean for Braden winning on home soil. And I am proud for him. But I will kick his butt in two weeks,” said a conciliatory Starykowicz.
THE POWER WOMEN
Furthermore, the women impressed the audience. Above all, Tauranga’s Hannah Wells has carried on showing impressive form in 2019. She shook the women’s field up by winning and holding off multiple Long Distance and Middle Distance Champions American Meredith Kessler and Brit Laura Siddall.
It was her second professional win. Besides, she is certainly one to watch in the world of triathlon. Wells came out of the water in third place. She was behind a swift Meredith Kessler and Australian Kerry Morris.
Morris managed to overtake Kessler in the last 20km of the bike leg. She looked strong coming out of the transition. So, Kessler and Wells worked well together running down Morris and passing her at the start of the outlet track 7km into the run.
It was amazing to watch, when the front runners played cat and mouse for the rest of the leg. Thereby, Kessler proved her strength on the hills but Wells fast legs give her the win by 1min 7 secs.
THE WOMEN’S STATEMENTS
“It feels amazing,” said a thrilled Wells. “I mean it was super hard, but I held it together. The swim was pretty good as I kept with Kerry (Morris) and it is always good to have company in the water.”
“Then, once we were on the bike, I decided to play it conservatively on the way towards Treble Cone but Kerry decided to push forward but I stuck to my plan and hoped they would come back towards me which happened and set me up for the run.”
“But I didn’t want to go too hard on the Outlet Track as I know it can take it out of your legs.
Thus I decided to tuck up behind Meredith (Kessler) and not do anything silly. Furthermore, on Gunn Road I had a tough spot where she got ten meters on me,” Wells said.
She continues: “I was on struggle street for sure and thought my day was done, but I had quicker downhill leg speed and managed to get a second wind and hold it till the finish. I am stoked.”
THE SUZUKI AQUABIKE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Suzuki Aquabike National Championships was won by Brendon Vesty. Queenstown Adam Wilson was in second and Paul Sell in Third. Nicole Wilson won the women’s race. Aileen Campbell and Claire Badenhorst followed.
Challenge Wanaka’s Ambassador, Laura Siddall was back for the fifth time. This prolific British Iron distance athlete has podium finishes in over 25 of her last 30 starts.
This includes 3-time Ironman Champion, 2018 ETU European Long Course Champion. Furthermore, she was the fastest British woman in 2016 and 2017.
THE CHANGES OF CHALLENGE WANAKA TRIATHLON 2019
There were some exciting changes to the 2019 event format with the centerpiece which was now the Challenge Half distance. Furthermore, it not only ensured an exciting day of racing, but it also allowed for a more compact day for all volunteers and the local community.
THE CHALLENGE WANAKA GENERATIONS
Due to the popularity of The Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka, the event was split over two days with the addition of the Intermediate Challenge for the 11 to 12 year old age group on Thursday 14 February morning and ages 5-10 held on Friday 15 February.
Additionally, for a second year running the event was hosted the Otago Secondary Schools Championships on Thursday. Moreover, the Aquabike National Championship as part of the Suzuki National Championships Series took place on Saturday 16 February.
Bill Roxburgh, Challenge Wanaka Race Director said: “Challenge Wanaka 2019 is set to be a true triathlon festival with an event for all ages groups and abilities with plenty for spectators to watch and visit.”
He continues: “We are looking forward to seeing everyone competing and getting involved in our sport, from the excited kids through to the top professionals and our amazing age-group individuals and teams, it will be a sporting extravaganza.”
For more info visit the website at www.challenge-wanaka.com