25 Jan Records fall as Challenge Wanaka prepares to celebrates 10 years of world-class triathlon
Over 1,570 athletes from 28 nations will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the world’s most scenic triathlon and New Zealand’s largest multi-day triathlon festival, Challenge Wanaka, on 20 February.
They are joined by a record 850 of the region’s school children in the Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka, another record field as the event and local schools work together to grow the grass roots of New Zealand triathlon.
Triathlon is one of the few sports where amateurs and professionals can compete side by side and the 1,550 amateur athletes will share the course with some of the world’s top elite athletes. They include defending champions, Gina Crawford and Dylan McNeice, both from Christchurch as well as former world record holder, Yvonne van Vlerken (NED).
For the first time, Challenge Wanaka will host the New Zealand Ultra Distance Triathlon National Championships over the full distance (3,8km swim, 180km bike and 42,2km run) and also acts as a qualifier for the ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships over the half distance (1,9km, 90m, 21km).
Challenge Wanaka offers athletes the opportunity to compete as teams as well as individuals. The inclusion of the team category opens up the sport of long distance triathlon to a wider participation audience and also makes it less daunting. Unusually for this sport, the half field is split 49:51 female:male which organisers see as encouraging.
“It’s fantastic to see Challenge Wanaka breaking down the barriers of endurance sport and attracting so many women. Traditionally it’s very male dominated but this year’s field shows that our goal of inclusivity for all has been reached,” said race director, Victoria Murray-Orr. “It’s also wonderful to have so many children involved. As a charitable trust, our remit is to serve the community and what better way than encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle amongst the region’s youngsters. We’re looking forward to a very exciting race weekend at all levels!”
Challenge Wanaka, delivered by the Challenge Wanaka Sports Trust, brings in the region of $4 million of direct economic benefit each year to New Zealand. In addition it is broadcast live around the world at www.challenge-wanaka.com with a post-production highlights package seen by millions globally.
This year’s Challenge Wanaka starts at 7:00am on 20 February with live updates and results available at challenge-wanaka.com.