Saturday’s Challenge Wanaka will see the seventh running of the New Zealand iron-distance race this Saturday. This year the event, which has earned itself the reputation of the world’s most scenic long distance triathlon, features a top field of pro athletes alongside 2,000 age group racers.
In the men’s race all eyes are on four-time world champion Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack from Australia. It may be his first race in Wanaka but Macca is determined to put on a good show.
Macca said: “I’ve always wanted to do this race but it hasn’t fitted in with my schedule. I’m excited to race here because it’s absolutely beautiful. It should be a good race with Jamie (Whyte) who has the experience of winning here, and I know Rhodsie (Bryan Rhodes) is ready to put in a good race before his 40th birthday!”
New Zealand’s Jamie Whyte, who won the race here in 2011 and was runner up in 2012, returns to Wanaka after spending much of last season out through injury.
Whyte said: “The build up for this has been pretty good after I got over my injury last season. I’m feeling good and my family are over to watch, so I want to put on a good show for them.”
New Zealand’s Bryan Rhodes, one of the most colourful characters in the sport, is no stranger to this event and promises he’s ready to take on the field and give everyone a good show. Other male pros to look out for include Australia’s Leon Griffin, who’s a former duathlon world champion, and New Zealand’s Keegan Williams, who has been on the Challenge podium numerous times.
The women’s race sees the return of four-time Challenge Wanaka champion and course record holder Gina Crawford of New Zealand.
Crawford said: “I love racing here. The course has it all in the swim, on bike and out on the run, and that’s why I return each year. I’m looking forward to racing Jo here, but the race is wide open and any of the girls have a shot at winning.”
Crawford will face stiff competition from fellow countrywoman and 10-time iron-distance champion Jo Lawn, who is racing in Wanaka for the first time.
Lawn said: “I’m here because I wanted a new challenge and to race in a new place. I know I’m in my twilight years and Gina is starting out, but I am going to give it my best shot.”
Also representing New Zealand will be Candice Hammond who took the win at the Metaman Bintan back in September. Trying to upset this New Zealand trio is two-time iron-distance champion Kate Bevilaqua from Australia.